State to sue Worldcoin officials if found guilty of breaching law

Interior CS Kithure Kindiki before the Parliamentary Ad Hoc Committee. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Senior officials of Tools for Humanity Corporation, the parent firm of Worldcoin, will face the law if criminal culpability is established over their organisation's conduct in Kenya.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Prof Kithure Kindiki told MPs probing Worldcoin activities in Nairobi that a multi-agency team was investigating the firms' operations in the country.

The minister told the Parliamentary Ad Hoc Committee that the Worldcoin officials were allowed to leave the country after the United States' government undertook to produce them in case they were needed.

“I would like to assure Kenyans that the government is keenly following this matter, that is why it suspended the activities of Worldcoin pending investigations to establish if there was any wrongdoing, if criminal culpability is established necessary action will be taken,” said Prof Kindiki.

The minister told the committee that the government was also careful not to appear like it was fighting technology and innovation, bearing in mind that data is the gold of the future.

He said various regulatory agencies, such as the Central Bank of Kenya, Communications Authority of Kenya (CA), Office of the Data Protection Commission, Registrar of Companies, Capital Markets Authority, Kenya Bureau of Standards, Nuclear Power and Energy Agency, Consumer Protection Agency and Interpol have been engaged in the investigations.

Prof Kindiki said 26 statements have been recorded so far from persons of interest, and 48 recovered electronic gadgets and assorted merchandise are undergoing forensic analysis at CA and the Cyber Forensic Laboratory.

 “This will enable the investigators to ascertain the exact number of Kenyans signed up and safety of their personal data as well as the capability of the apparatus, possible health implications and whether they were authorised for use in Kenya,” said Prof Kindiki.

The minister said there was a correlation between cryptocurrency, money laundering and financing of terrorism, adding that cryptocurrency was not legal tender in Kenya as it was not regulated by the Central Bank of Kenya.

Prof Kindiki said gaps in law allowed for the transfer and trade in cryptocurrency without any regulatory checks, something that was encouraging anonymity in financial transactions across borders.

“Cryptocurrency creates an easy access to finances by criminals, including terrorists, and a fertile avenue for money laundering and tax evasion. This has also seen a rise in crypto jerking as an emerging crime trend with no laws to address it,” said Prof Kindiki.

A report by a taskforce set up to develop regulations under the Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Act, 2018, was ready and would be subjected to public participation.