BY SAM ALFAN.
The High Court has blocked a businessman from dealing with a property in Malindi over suspicion that it is linked to proceeds of crime.
Justice Esther Maina froze the property belonging to Anwari Ali Omari following his arrest for possessing cocaine valued Sh1.8 million.
The Judge prohibited Anwar, his employees or agents from dealing in any manner with the stated property known as Casuarina Plaza, pending the determination of a petition filed by Assets Recovery Agency (ARA).
The court further ordered that any rental income, benefits, profits derived from the property be deposited with the Agency’s bank account at Kenya Commercial Bank, KICC Branch pending hearing and determination of the intended forfeiture application.
The businessman was ordered to surrender the Title or ownership documents of the said property to the agency.
“There are reasonable grounds to believe that the specified assets are acquired through the proceeds from the illegitimate trade of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic substances and there is imminent risk Anwar may cause the transfer of the said properties if this Honourable Court does not issue the orders sought in the application,” the agency said.
The court further directed the Chief Land Registrar to register a caveat against the records of the said properties and the preservation orders shall remain in force for a period of ninety (90) days pending forfeiture proceedings.
The Agency through the investigating officer Isaac Nakitare told the court that he had established that Anwar acquired the property using the proceeds of crime obtained from the illegitimate trade of narcotic drugs.
“Unless this Court grants the orders sought, the economic advantage derived from the commission of crimes will continue to benefit a few to the disadvantage of the general public interest and it is in the interest of public interest that the Orders Sought are granted and the assets specified in the application be preserved,” he submitted.
The investigating officer further said an analysis of the accounts statements established that there were suspicious cash deposits into the businessman’s bank accounts.
He told the court that all the bank accounts were opened and operated by the Anwar and and that suspicious sums of cash were deposited, a pointed to activities of money laundering. His mobile phone also received suspicious cash transactions.
“My investigations established that the deposits in the accounts were mostly made in tranches below Sh 1 million to evade the reporting threshold as per Central Bank of Kenya prudential guidelines for an account holder to declare the source of the money and in the course of my investigations I established the above bank accounts and mobile phone numbers were used as conduit of money laundering and there is reasonable suspicion to believe that same was acquired from the illegitimate trade in narcotic drugs by the Respondent and are proceeds of crime,” added the officer.
He revealed that investigations established that Anwar engaged in the illicit trade of trafficking in narcotic drugs.
And from the proceeds of the illicit trade, he allegedly acquired the specified assets.
Anwar was arrested on May 30, 2023, by a team of Officers from Directorate of Criminal Investigations on suspicion of dealing in illicit trade.
A search was conducted on the residence of the Respondent and a total of 464.46 grams of cocaine whose market value was Sh. 1,857,840 were recovered.