BY NT CORRESPONDENT.
The High Court is set to rule whether the property of businessman and his wife, facing charges of money laundering and dealing in game trophies, are proceeds of crime.
Justice Mumbi Ngugi said she will deliver her verdict on January 20 next year after completing hearing all the parties. Joseph Wanjohi and his wife Jane Wambui Wanjiru have maintained that they acquired the property legally.
The anti-graft court had earlier issued orders restraining businessman and their two companies, Sidjoe Manufacturers and suppliers and Marudiono zone Limited, from withdrawing Sh10.5 million from their accounts.
Anti-Corruption court further ordered the businessman to surrender his two luxury cars Range Rover KBU 950W and Mercedes Benz KCD 299H, both registered under the name of Joseph Wanjohi, to the Director of Criminal Investigation George Kinoti.
Asset Recovery Agency reiterated that they still believe the property of Wanjohi and his wife are proceeds of crime.
In the submissions, the agency said they opened an inquiry number 19/2018 to investigate the allegations in the two suspects’ accounts and the financial investigations revealed that the two accounts were holding a total of Ksh 10,589,069.9 million suspected to be proceeds of crime.
ARA said they believed that the money was obtained from illegitimate trade of wildlife trophies and dealing in narcotic drugs.
“There is reasonable cause to believe that the above funds and assets were procured or acquired using proceeds of crime from illegitimate trade of wildlife trophy and narcotic drugs by Joseph Wanjohi and his wife Jane Wambui Wanjiru and registered under the names Marudiono Zone Limited”, the agency told the court.
The agency in their application explained that Wanjohi and Wambui engaged the services of mules who acquire, convey, sell and distribute the narcotic drugs and wildlife trophies for and on behalf of the two within and outside Kenya.
It was submitted that that the benefit derived from this illegal trade of narcotic drugs and wildlife trophies were subsequently delivered to them by way of physical cash and deposits into their identified bank accounts by their agents, associate and conduit entities so to conceal, hide and disguise the source of the funds deposited.
Assets Recovery added that the two laundered the benefits of the narcotic drugs and wildlife trophies delivered to them by investing the same in the properties and assets identified with an intent of concealing, disguising and hiding the source of the funds used to acquire the assets in contrary to the provisions of the proceeds of crime and money laundering Act, 2009.
“The two in a scheme to disrupt the chain of investigations, source of funds and the connections between the assets they acquired through the benefits derived from illegal trade of narcotic drugs and wildlife trophies created and registered the Sidjoe Manufacturers and suppliers and Marudiono Zone Limited and others entities as conditions of money laundering and registered some of the assets in issue under the names of these conduit entities”, submitted the agency.
The agency added that an analysis of the statements recorded by the two does not logically explain the source of the assets and funds in the issue.
Wanjohi in their application said their business has stalled as a consequence of the frozen accounts thus jeopardizing their business transactions. They further contended that the preservation orders obtained against the application was open ended without a time frame within which investigations were to be conducted thus jeopardising their business.
They also claimed that majority of their assets preserved were acquired before the year 2099 to 2018 the period alleged that they had received money from illegal activities. They added that the alleged orders granted were previously the subject of preservation orders before the magistrate’s court for three months since August 28, 2018.
Wanjohi, his wife and the company dismissed and termed the allegations that they had been depositing cash in tranches of below shillings one million to avoid detection and questioning by the central bank of Kenya as a nonstarter.
“Regarding the drinks seized from their home, the applicants averred that they have been since been returned to them as the same constitute genuine import business. Touching on motor vehicle KBU 940W, the applicants stated that the property does not exist as it was involved in a road accident and same marked as a write off”, stated the ruling.
While disputing involvement in illegal trade on wildlife trophies, they termed the same as trumped up allegations and charges without cogent evidence and they had no relationship with acquisition of their property before July 2018 when those claims were made.
They also stated that they have been engaging in legitimate importation, wholesale and retail business of high beverages including alcohol and attached copies of cheques showing various bank slips made to the banks by customers and clients among others.