BY SAM ALFAN.
Assets recovery Agency (ARA) has won big after the High Court Anti-Corruptuon ordered the forfeiture of Sh97.6 million belonging to the mother of a suspect facing charges over the alleged theft of Sh791 million from National Youth Service (NYS).
Justice Mumbi Ngugi ruled that the money in four accounts belonging to Charity Wangui Gethi and Samuel Mdanyi Wachenje alias Sam Mwadime were proceeds of crime having been siphoned from NYS between 2014 and 2015.
Gethi is mother to Ben Gethi who is facing charges over the loss of Sh791 million from the state agency.
“Accordingly, i find and hold that the application by Assets Recovery Agency (ARA)is merited and a declaration is hereby issued that the funds Sh 97,682,424 held in the names of Wangui and Wachenje at Faulu kenya limited, Standard chartered bank Ruaraka branch, Family Bank and Old Mutual money Market fund Nairobi are proceeds of crime and liable for forfeiture to the government,” ordered Mumbi.
The judge further said that Sh97.68 million which the court had earlier ordered be deposited into account number 1000320079 at the Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) in the name of the agency will now be forfeited to the government and later transferred to Assets Recovery Agency.
Justice Mumbi forfeited the funds after the two suspects failed to show a legitimate source of the funds deposited in the several bank accounts from NYS accounts in the 2014-2015 period.
“Wachenje has not bothered to proffer an explanation for the source of the funds. Wangui has proffered an explanation that does not satisfy the court that the agency’s contentions are wrong,”ruled Mumbi.
Although Gethi mother defended the funds saying she earned it genuinely from her business entities, the court said ARA had proved that the funds moved from NYS prime suspect Josephine Kabura Irungu, to Gethi’s business associates then to some law firms then eventually to her accounts.
“It would also be quite a strange coincidence that on the same dates and in the same branch of the same bank, that funds were moving from Josephine Kabura Irungu’s business entities, then the same quantity of funds were being deposited in the accounts of John Kago and thereafter the her advocates and then into her accounts,” the Judge said.
She said ARA had established on a balance or probabilities that the funds in the four accounts were proceeds of crime, having been part of the funds fraudulently transferred from NYS.
“Having so found, then the only recourse to the court is to find that as proceeds of crime, they are liable to forfeiture to the state,” the Judge said and dismissed her defence that because she has not been convicted in relation to NYS funds, then the funds were from genuine business.
The money was in four accounts, including 79.6 million in Ms Gethi’s account at Faulu and in her name, Sh10 million at Family Bank in the name of Mr Mwadime, a further Sh7.8 million at Standard Chartered bank in and another Sh204,000 at Old Mutual both in Gethi’s name.
According to the court papers, the agency says that from the amounts paid to the accounts of Kabura a total of Sh 381 million was transferred by the busineslady to one John Kago Ndungu and Goodluck Treaty Eleven Enterprises at Family bank, Cargen branch on diverse dates between January 20 and June 2015.
It is said that Kabura later transferred Sh 273 million to Kago on diverse dates between April 10 and June 9,2015 and another 108 million in the name Goodluck Treaty Eleven Enterprises, a business entity owned by Kago.
The agency further presented bank statements showing that out of Sh 273 million Kago received in his bank accounts, he transferred through RTGS a sum of Sh 103 million and another 10 million to K-Rep Bank in the name of Ogola and company advocates between March and June 2015.
The court heard that the firm of Ogola and company advocates upon receiving a total of Sh 113 million from Kago, transferred Sh 79,676,505 to Charity Wangui bank account held at Faulu Kenya Limited.
Muthoni also tabled in court a statement made by lawyer Patrick Ogola on May 28,2015 showing that his law firm out of the Sh 113 million they received from Kago, they transferred another Sh 20 million to Wangui.
According to further evidence availed in court by the agency show that on April 8,2015 out of the Sh 273 million held at Family bank in the name of Kago, he transfered another Sh 78 million to M.M Gitonga and Associates bank accounts held at Prime bank.