BY SAM ALFAN.
A Nakuru businessman accused of smuggling cigarettes from Uganda worth millions lost over Sh43 million to the state after a judge ruled that the money held at Equity bank are proceeds of crime.
Justice James Wakiaga directed the money belonging to Josphat Kamau be forfeited to Asstes Recovery Agency after he failed to explain the source of the money.
Justice Wakiaga said that the businessman failed to produce any license issued to him by relevant authorities in support of the business he was engaged in and the only logical conclusion was that he was involved in the smuggling goods.
“Therefore am satisfied that Assets Recovery Agency has proved based on the evidence that the funds held in Kamau’s bank accounts in the absence of any rebuttable evidence to the contrary are process of crime and therefore reliable to forfeiture to the state,” ruled Wakiaga.
The judge observed that any business concern must have records in support of it or its operations.
“It is not enough for Kamau to state that he has been in business since October 29, 2014 and that he owns heavy commercial vehicles for commercial use finance by financial institutions and the same was under evidential burden to show to the court how the said loans are serviced and the source of the funds used in servicing the same,” the Judge said.
Judge Wakiaga further said that Kamau failed to counter the evidence adduced against him by ARA that his motor vehicles were modified for the purposes of concealing uncustomised goods and the bank statements confirming cash deposit over the period of the inquiry.
In his defence, Kamau informed the court that he was a registered businessman in Nakuru trading under as Tifphat transporters and that he was a registered owner of three motor vehicles jointly owned with Equity bank limited as the financier for the use in his transportation and cereal business.
The ARA Investigations officer Sergeant Fredrick Musyoki told the court that they received information and conducted investigations which established that on October 26, 2019 Kamau’s three motor vehicles were impounded snagging 390 cartons of Supermatch cigarette worth Sh 9,750,000 which had been concealed in a disguised place customized for smuggling goods.
Kamau was charged jointly with his driver with two counts of smuggling goods and importing of restricted goods contrary to East Africa community Customs Management act 2004 before Eldoret chief Magistrate Court.
The investigation officer told the court that further analysis of Kamau’s bank statement reviewed several suspicious transactions which coincided with the border crossing of his two motor vehicles totally to grand total of sh 24,290,000 and that the deposits were mainly made in trenches below sh 1 million to evade the reporting threshold as per section 44 and 4 schedule of PROCAMLA.