STATE AGENCY TARGETS HIGH-END VEHICLE, PLOTS IN MATHARE BELONGING TO TRADER LINKED TO POACHING.

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Attorney General Chamber home of Asset Recovery Agency (ARA). /PHOTO BY S.A.N.

BY SAM ALFAN.

Asset Recovery Agency (ARA) has moved to court to compel businessman Jackson Mbugua Burugu forfeit his Mercedes Benz and plot in Mathare to the State.

ARA said the Mercedes Benz KBE 416Y and plots Number 76B Mathare North Commercial Zone and Number 156B belonging to the businessman are proceeds of crime and liable for forfeiture.

The agency told the court that on or about 5th October 2021 Kenya Wildlife Service officers arrested the businessman and three others with game trophies.

They were arrested at Enasoit in Olgoji Conservancy within Laikipia County on suspicion of illegal poaching and upon search of the motor vehicle registration number KBE 416Y Mercedes Benz, the officers recovered four (4) elephant tusks weighing approximately 69.2 Kilograms being conveyed without a license/permit.

 The elephant tusks were subsequently dispatched to the Kenya Wildlife Services offices for purposes of weighing and the weighing revealed that the four elephant tusks weighed 69.2 Kilograms.

On 7th October 2021, Burugu and his accomplices were charged in a Nanyuki court with dealing in Wildlife trophies of endangered species without a permit contrary to Section 92 (2) of the Wildlife Conservation and Management Act.

Burugu was previously charged with a similar offence on 25th August 2017 after he was found illegally transporting sandalwood, an endangered wildlife species.

The agency said a total of USD 21, 080 was immediately withdrawn in Kenya while a total of USD 73,500 was transferred to Bank Account number in the name of Jackson Burugu Mbugua held at Equity Bank Limited and Bank Account in the name of Jackson Burugu Mbugua held at Equity Bank Limited received a total Sh. 7,515,250 from USD Bank Account Number in the name of Jackson Burugu Mbugua held at Equity Bank Limited between February and July 2017 which funds were immediately withdrawn and transferred to other accounts indicating activities of money laundering activities.

The investigations established that the Burugu laundered the benefits he obtained from the illegitimate trade of wildlife trophies and acquired the assets/properties in issue using proceeds from the illegitimate trade of wildlife trophies. 

“My investigations further established Burugu acquired assets/properties using the proceeds from the illegitimate trade of wildlife trophies and sandal wood through money laundering so as to conceal and disguise the source of the funds used to procure the said assets,”, says Investigating officer. 

He adds that in the course of our investigations, I further established the following assets which there is reasonable cause to believe were procured/acquired using the proceeds of crime from the illegitimate trade of wildlife trophies and sandal wood; i) Plot Number 76B Mathare North Commercial Zone. ii) Plot Number 156B Mathare North Commercial Zone. iii) Motor Vehicle registration number KBE 416Y Mercedes Benz.

 Their are copies of sale agreement dated 10th January 2014 for plot numbers 76B and 156B Mathare North Commercial Zone and NTSA Certificate of registration for motor vehicle registration number KBE 416Y). Burugu devised complex criminal mechanism of acquiring, trafficking, distributing and selling illegal wildlife trophies and endangered sandal wood species and laundered the same with an intent of concealing, following the arrest and arraignment in Court of the respondent, the Agency commenced investigations to recover proceeds of crime accrued to the respondent through the illegitimate trafficking and trading of wildlife trophies in accordance with its mandate. 

Investigations established that the respondent illegally and unlawfully acquired the wildlife trophies /elephant tusks and other endangered wildlife species such as sandal wood disguising the illegitimate trade as charcoal trade destined for various destinations various destinations within and outside the Country, investigations further established that the proceeds from the illegitimate trade of wildlife trophies and sandal wood were laundered and received through the respondent’s banks accounts and eventually used to acquire the assets in issue

On 25th July 2022 1 filed Miscellaneous Application vide Number E083 of 2022 seeking orders to search, inspect, seize, freeze and restrict any funds held in the following accounts owned and operated by the respondents: i. USD Bank Account Number 1050171817382 in the name of Jackson Burugu Mbugua held at Equity Bank Limited. ii. Kenya Shillings Bank Account Number 1100171864273 in the name of Jackson Burugu Mbugua held at Equity Bank Limited. 

” I subsequently extracted the orders and served upon the respective banks where I obtained statements of accounts from the banks as per the Court Order,” says IO. 

According to ARA, analysis of the bank accounts established that they conducted various suspicious transactions both internationally and domestically sourced from the illegitimate trade of wildlife trophies and sandal wood. 

“Analysis of USD Bank Account Number 1050171817382 in the name of Jackson Burugu Mbugua held at Equity Bank Limited between February and July 2017 established that it received a total USD 94, 600 deposited from Tanzania and Uganda jurisdictions,” he says. 

A total of USD 21,080 was immediately withdrawn in Kenya while a total of USD 73,500 was transferred to Bank Account Number 1100171864273 in the name of Jackson Burugu Mbugua held at Equity Bank Limited.

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