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CAMEROON NATIONAL DENIES POSSESSING MILLIONS OF FAKE US CURRENCY.

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BY NT CORRESPONDENT.

A Cameroonian has been charged with possessing over Sh 283 million in fake currency.

Timson Tiekam Babila was accused of possessing pieces of papers in 100 denominations equivalent to USD 2.5 million intended to pass as genuine USA currency notes.

The accused is alleged to have committed the offence on January 12 this year at Athi River in Machakos County. Milimani Senior Principal Magistrate Bernard Ochoi heard that he committed the offence jointly with others not before court.

Babila was released on a bond of Sh 10 million pending the hearing and determination of the case.

The accused person was arrested by detectives from the DCI’s Economic and Commercial Crimes Unit (ECCU) for allegedly falsely obtaining money from a Kenyan-based Australian businessman.

According to police reports, Babila, who is alleged to be the mastermind behind the syndicate, lures unsuspecting businessmen with the promise of cleaning fake dollar notes and converting them into genuine cash.

“In order to make this happen, the suspect first asks his victims for genuine money for the purchase of chemicals and other materials used to clean the fake notes, usually locked in steel boxes,” the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) said in a statement. 

The DCI continued on to say that the Australian investor had fronted Babila Ksh.800,000 before he realised he was being duped.

CAMEROONIAN FRAUDSTER ARRESTED AFTER CONNING AUSTRALIAN INVESTOR.

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BY NT CORRESPONDENT.

A 36-year-old Cameroonian has been nabbed by police officers after defrauding an Australian investor by claiming that he would supply him with gold.

Timson Tiekam Babila alias Jeremy was arrested by DCI’s Economic and Commercial Crimes (ECCU) at a hotel in Kilimani area following a tip off from the complainant.

According to DCI Kenya official Twitter account, the suspect believed to be a ‘wash wash’ specialist was arrested together with two other accomplices, Ernest Abeng Ahuo and Ayong Ronald Aku, all Cameroonian citizens.

Preliminary investigations reveal that Babila, entices his clients by duping them that they will make quick cash after cleaning their fake dollars and turning the dollars into real money.

In order to make this happen, the suspect first asks his victims for genuine money for the purchase of chemicals and other materials used to clean the fake notes, usually locked steel boxes.

An Australian investor with business interests in Kenya and Dubai had advanced Sh800,000, to the suspects before he discovered that coned.

The Australian made a report at the ECCU offices, leading to the arrest of the Cameroonian.

CONGOLESE IN FAKE SH120 MILLION GOLD SCAM TO REMAIN IN CUSTODY OVER THE WEEKEND AWAITING RULING ON BAIL.

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BY SAM ALFAN.

A Congolese national has been charged with obtaining over Sh120 million from a Ukrainian businessman.

Andre Kongolo Tshikangu appeared before Milimani Senior Principal Magistrate Benard Ochoi and denied the fraud charges.

He was accused of obtaining Sh120,090,600 from Kovalenko Hennadii by falsely pretending he was in position to sell to him gold.

The court heard that he committed the offence on diverse dates between January 2018 and November 2018 at Capitol M/s M afrosolution Co. ltd along Kaptei road in Kileleshwa. He is alleged to have committed the offence with others not before court.

The victim’s lawyer opposed his application to be released on bail on grounds that he was a flight risk because he did not have a fixed home.

The court heard that it has taken the investigating officer close to four years to trace and arrest Kongolo.

Further, the court was told that the accused was at flight risk and should therefore not be released on bail until the case is concluded.

Through his lawyer Stanley Kangahi, Kongolo said he has constitutional rights to be freed on bond and that he has a permanent home and also is a Kenyan citizen. He said he will abide by all the bond terms imposed by the court.

The magistrate will rule on Monday on whether to release him on bail or to remain in prison pending trial.

NEW TWIST IN MUMIAS SUGAR AS COURT SUSPENDS OPERATIONS YET AGAIN.

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BY SAM ALFAN.

The perpetual delay in reviving Mumias sugar company could be politically motivated.

Local farmers through Gakwamba Farmers Cooperative are concerned that there are politicians hell bent to frustrate the firm’s revival.

Through lawyer Danstan Omari, the farmers stated that some politicians in western Kenya are sponsoring many court cases which have stalled revival.

The Judge also allowed Gakwamba Farmers’ Co-operative Society Limited to join the case after arguing that they are shareholders in the Sugar Milling firm.

Through Lawyer Omari, the farmers had argued that they would suffer prejudice if the suit were to proceed without them.

The revival of the ailing miller has been stalled over a dispute filed by Tumaz and Tumaz Enterprises, challenging the process arguing that it was fraught with irregularities.

Several cases have been filed in court regarding the lease of the Sugar milling plant and on December 29, the court suspended the lease, pending the determination of the case filed by Tumaz.

Sarrai on the other hand said it has started operations at the company after the lease was signed and the order was issued after the horse had already bolted from the stable.

The Uganda-based company, which is associated with Rai Family, has since filed an application seeking to have the order suspending the lease lifted, arguing that the court did not have the jurisdiction to hear the case. The application will also be heard on January 21.

Last week, Tumaz filed a contempt case against Sarrai Group accusing it of starting work at the sugar milling plant despite the existence of a court order barring them from doing so.

On Tuesday, Kakamega County moved to court and obtained an order stopping KCB appointed receiver-manager PVR Rao and Tumaz & Tumaz Enterprises, which has contested the 20-year-lease, from interfering with operations of Sarrai Group.

The order was however vacated a day after, by Justice William Musyoka who ruled that he was not informed of the December 29 order, which suspended the leasing process.

This iis after the High court issued fresh orders stopping operations at Mumias Sugar Company dealing a blow to plans to revive the ailing miller.

Justice Wilfrida Onkwany of the Commercial Division of the High Court issued temporary orders that are to last for ten days, following a suit filed by five farmers who have challenged the lease issued to Uganda-based Company Sarrai Group. The farmers argue that the bidding process was undertaken in an opaque manner.

Lambert Lwanga Ogochi, Augustino Ochacha Saba, Prisca Okwanko Ochacha, Robert Mudinyu Magero and Wycliffe Barasa Ng’onga have contested the lease on grounds that the 20-year lease was offered to the lowest bidder and without regulatory approvals.

“The justice of this case would require that the court halts the activities and the actions that have been complained of by the applicants for a limited period of 10 days so as to enable respondents to file their responses,” ruled the Judge.

According to the Judge, it would serve the interest of justice to preserve the subject as the court considers all the issues that have been raised.

DON BOSCO GICHANA’S SISTER JAILED OVER MONIES STOLEN FROM A LENDER 11-YEARS AGO.

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BY SAM ALFAN.

A sister to aspiring Kisii politician Don Bosco Gichana and a former bank manager have been handed an 18-month jail term after they were found guilty of stealing over 100 million from Fina Bank over a decade ago.

Gladys Moraa, Graham Sagwe, the former Fina Bank manager- now known as Guaranty Trust Bank (GT Bank), Robert Moseti and Obadiah Nyambane were however given one year to repay 15 million, failure to which they will serve the sentence.

Chief Magistrate Francis Andayi convicted the four accused persons after finding them guilty of two counts of conspiracy to defraud and stealing. He said the prosecution had proved the case against them beyond reasonable doubt.

The court directed their cash bail of Sh4.5 million, which had been deposited in court, to be paid of the fine while the balance of Sh10.5 million should be repaid in one year.

Gichana, the master-mind of the fraud did stand trial in Kenya since he was arrested and detained in Tanzania over money laundering.

“If you will have not paid the Sh 10.5million by January 10, 2023 just take yourselves to the prison to serve the 18 months’ sentence,” Andayi ordered the convicts.

The magistrate handed down the non-custodial sentence after they pleaded with the court through their lawyer Ismael Nyaribo who said they were remorseful and have since reformed for the last eleven years they have gone through the trial.

“I note that the accused attended court religiously for the last eleven years,” Andayi stated.

The magistrate said the suspects had been directed by Justice Mohamed Warsame in 2010 to return the money which had been distributed amongst five people after it was re-routed from Fina Bank to an account of Malch Construction Limited at EcoBank.

“After lawyers Albert Kuloba and Ian Maina returned the money received by their law firms charges filed against them were dropped then they were cleared of any wrong-doing by Justice Mohamed Warsame,” Andayi said.

The magistrate added that it is in that spirit that over Sh80 million were returned to the bank.

Magistrate Andayi noted the balance of Sh15million was not paid since the master-mind of the fraud Gichana was arrested and detained in Tanzania although he has since been freed but police did not arraign him in court to face justice.

The prosecution had lined up 53 witnesses but reduced the number to seven after the repayment of over Sh80 Million by the accused.

“The maximum sentence for the offences against the accused of conspiracy to defraud and theft which the accused have been convicted for is three years without an option of fine. However I will sentence each of them to serve 18 months but I will suspend the term for 12 months to give room to the convicts to repay the balance of Sh15million to the last cent as they had promised when they were put on their defence,” Andayi noted.

The magistrate wondered why the police did not arrest Gichana who was the mastermind of the fraud, saying he has been roaming about in the country even after being freed from Tanzania prison for charges of money laundering.

“The master-mind of the fraud Don Bosco Gichana is still roaming around freely because the police have failed to arrest him since 2009 when this case was first filed in court. One wonders whether this is as a result of conspiracy to defeat justice,” said the magistrate.

Andayi noted that there is overwhelming evidence against Gichana which was availed by his co-accused person including his sister (Moraa) who informed the court that the fraud was masterminded by her kin.

THREE COMPANIES AND ITS DIRECTORS CHARGED WITH SELLING SH11 MILLION COUNTERFEIT MASKS.

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BY SAM ALFAN.

Four directors in three companies have been charged with conspiracy to sell counterfeit worth Sh11 million.

The companies including Johngray communication ltd, Davetronics Electronic ltd and Real Time Co ltd were charged together with William Muthee, Sylvia Wambui, Dr. Kimani Muthami and Lilian Awour.

The companies were accused of conspiring to sell counterfeit goods including 20, 000 pieces of ‘3’ branded face masks valued Sh11, 000,000 without authority of 3M company the registered owner of ‘3M’ Trade mark.

The court heard that the face masks were an imitation.

It is alleged that they committed the offence on diverse dates between December 30, 2020 and January 18 last year, within Nairobi County.

Dr. Kimani Muthami, the director of Johngray communication ltd was further accused of selling counterfeit 20,000 pieces of ‘3M’ branded face masks valued Sh11 million without authority of 3 M company.

The court heard that he committed the offence on diverse dates between December 30, 2020 and January 18 last year in Nairobi.

The prosecution further alleged that on diverse dates December 29, 2020 and January 6, 2021, Real Time Co, ltd and its director Lilian Awour was also found selling counterfeit face masks without authority from the brand owner.

The company was allegedly selling the face masks at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, while Davetronics Electronic ltd and its directors William Muthee and Sylvia Wambui committed a similar offence.

They denied the charges when they appeared before Milimani Senior Principal Esther Kimilu.

The court ordered them to deposit cash bail of Sh300, 000 each, to secure their release.

NURSE DENIES STEALING DRUGS FROM KNH.

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BY NNT CORRESPONDENT.

A 53-year-old Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) nurse has been charged with stealing medicine worth Sh81,600 from the country’s largest referral hospital.

Joseph Onyango Joel Migundo appeared before Milimani Senior Principal Magistrate Benard Ochoi over accusations of stealing 12 bottles of Human Albumin Solution 100ML all valued Sh81,600 from KNH.

He is alleged to have stolen the drugs on diverse dates between October 26 and December 9, 2021 at KNH. The drugs came into his possession by virtue of employment.

The court also heard that on December 9 last year at KNH within Nairobi County otherwise than the cause of stealing, Migundo dishonestly retained four bottles of Human Albumin Solution 100ML knowing or having reason to believe they were stolen.

It is alleged that he was caught using a patient in a coma to steal medicine at the hospital for three months.

He denied the charges and was released on a cash bail of Sh50,000.

WIN FOR MOTORISTS AS COURT SUSPENDS INCREASE OF INSURANCE PREMIUMS.

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BY SAM ALFAN.

Motorists have been spared the agony of paying high premiums after the High Court suspended a decision by underwriters to increase premiums for both the third party and comprehensive covers.

Justice James Makau also stopped the insurance companies from excluding motor-vehicles which are more than 12 years old or with a value of Kshs 600,000 and below from the comprehensive cover.

Justice Makau noted that declining to grant the interim orders would prejudice the public.

“I have considered the petitioner’s grounds in support of the application and oral submissions by both parties and upon careful evaluation of the same, I find that the petitioner has demonstrated a prima facie case with a likelihood of success,” ruled Justice Makau.

The Judge at the same time allowed Consumers Federation of Kenya (Cofek) to join the suit and directed them to file and serve their responses within 21 days.

Kenya Human Rights Commission challenged the planned increase arguing that the Insurance Regulatory Authority and Association of Kenya Insurers had failed to protect the public and for failing to subject it to public participation.

“Unless the court intervenes and halts the changes, consumers will continue to greatly suffer as their safety and economic interests are compromised,” says the commission in court documents.  

In the petition, the commission further wants the court to issue a conservatory order suspending the decision by insurance companies to unjustifiably increase premiums for both the motor vehicle third party cover and comprehensive cover beginning this year 2022.

“A conservatory order suspending the decision by insurance companies to exclude motor-vehicles which are more than 12 years old or with a value of Kshs 600,000 and below from their Comprehensive Cover pending the hearing and determination of this Petition”, the commission urges.

KHRC argues that the Motor-vehicle insurance is mandatory in Kenya and it serves to ensure the safety of motor-vehicle owners, third parties and the public in general and motor-vehicle owners are therefore required to take out motor-vehicle insurance which can either be a comprehensive cover or third party cover.  

It argues that Insurance Regulatory Authority and Association of Kenya Insurers are mandated to among others regulate, supervise and develop the insurance industry. By virtue of these roles the Respondent controls insurance players and business in Kenya;

“Policy holders are therefore consumers of insurance services and are entitled to the protection of their health, safety and economic interests and vide various mass media and communique sent to their customers, a number of insurance companies have publicly announced an increase of up-to 50% of premiums starting the year 2022 for Motor-Vehicle Comprehensive cover and the third party over,” says the commission.  

The court heard that ordinarily, premiums for the comprehensive cover are tabulated using a definite formula which was 4% of the value of the motor-vehicle. Any amount above this has to be justified and has to involve consumers/public, the commission stated.

The underwriters allegedly attributed the increase in premiums to a surge of claims, some of which are fraudulent.

But KHRC says this is not a reason to increase the premiums considering that the law provides safeguards which allows insurance companies to repudiate claims that are not genuine.

TEMPORARY WIN FOR LAWYERS AS CONTROVERSIAL LAW IS SUSPENDED.

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BY SAM ALFAN.

Lawyers have won a reprieve after the High Court suspended the implementation of a section of the law that compels them to report clients transactions that are above Sh1 million.

Justice James Makau temporarily suspended section 2 (c)(i) and section 14 (b) of the Proceeds of Crime and Anti-Money Laundering (Amendment) Act, 2021, which was assented by President Kenyatta on January 3.

“A conservatory order be and hereby issued in the interim stopping any further, precipitate, implementation or operationalization of section 2(c)(i) and section 14(b) of proceeds of crime and Anti-money Laundering (Amendment Act. 2021 pending hearing and determination of the application “, ordered Justice Makau.

Lawyer Mwaura Kabata moved to court seeking to stop the operationalization of sections 2(c)(i) and 14(b) of the Proceeds of Crime and Anti- Money Laundering (Amendment) Act, 2022.

Mwaura challenged the implementation of the law, which requires lawyers to keep cash records of transactions of their clients, which are beyond Sh1 million.

“It has been demonstrated that the petitioner has a prima facie case with likelihood of success… It has also been demonstrated that the interim orders if not granted to the advocates and their staff who are said to be targeted by the referred section shall be prejudiced,” ruled the Judge.

The Financial Reporting Centre and the Attorney General had been named as respondents in the suit as the Judge allowed LSK Nairobi Branch and the National Assembly to join the case.

In the case, Kabata argues that the law has made them unwilling state agents and turned law offices into archives for use by the police and prosecution.

He contends that by operation of the provisions introduced into the Act, lawyers are impeded in their duties and their service delivery to their clients, as the provisions manifestly erode advocate-client privilege.

Advocates are, by operation of the afore-mentioned provisions, obliged to report to the Financial Reporting Centre in terms of the Act.

He argues that the impugned provisions have a predominantly criminal law character rather than an administrative law character. They facilitate detecting and deterring criminal offences, and investigating and prosecuting criminal offences.

Through lawyer Peter Wanyama and Omwanza, Mwaura further argues that there are harsh penal sanctions for non-compliance as they authorise sweeping searches of law offices which inherently risks breaching advocate-client privilege.

The court heard that advocate-client privilege has already been recognized as a constitutional norm and breach of this principle of fundamental justice is sufficient to establish the potential deprivation of liberty that violates article 24 and 31 of the Constitution.

LSK Nairobi Branch supported the petition arguing that the independence of lawyers is tied to the independence of the judiciary.

“Whereas the judges and advocates are not above the law, the legal system protects the bar and the judiciary,” argued lawyer Peter Wanyama.

The Lawyer argued that article 50 states that an accused person shall not give self-incriminating evidence yet in the amended section it wants an advocate for that an accused person to report and give evidence of the accused person to the state.

“It is like amending the constitution through the back door. I fully support the issuance of conservatory orders,” he said.

FRC and the Attorney General had opposed the grant of interim orders saying they were yet to interrogate the case and file their responses.

They claimed the prayers sought, intended to stop the implementation of the money laundering act and therefore should not be granted.

“We are not seeing any matter that warrants the suspension of this clause. We would want to put in a detailed response and therefore we request for time to put in papers,” argued Dennis Moroga for the Attorney General.

According to lawyer Omwanza Ombati, hose sections – vide the amendment- make advocates “reporting agents” (essentially spies against their own clients) to FRC and other law enforcement agencies on any transactions of more that 1 million shillings, with respect to land, money held in clients accounts, bonds etc and further compels advocates to report on what they perceive as “suspicious transactions.”

He claimed that the advocates have been converted into state agents to spy against their own clients by the Amendment. 

“Law offices have become -adjunct- police stations, required to store the information for 7 years. This not only is it in breach of advocate-client confidentiality but also threatens the independence of the Bar”, Omwanza adds.

He added that the Amendment further authorises FRC and law enforcement agencies by section 130B of the amendment to conduct warrantless searches on advocates offices and intercept privileged information between advocates and their clients, without any resort to courts.

The Judge directed them to file their responses within 14 days and the matter to be mentioned on January 22 to confirm compliance and other directions.

FAMILY BANK EMPLOYEES DENY SH10 MILLION THEFT CHARGES.

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BY PHOEBE WANJOHI.

Two employees of Family Bank have been charged with stealing over Sh10 million from the lender.

Amos Ondieki Nyagemi and Stephen Kimani Ngacha appeared before Milimani Senior Principal Magistrate Robert Ondieki and denied the charges.

Nyagemi, a cashier at the bank is accused of stealing S 4,846,900, which came into his possession by virtue of his employment.

Nyagemi is alleged to have committed the offense between November 7, and December 2, 2016 at the bank’s Nakuru Market branch in Nakuru county. He allegedly committed the offence jointly with others not before court.

The cashier is also facing another charge of stealing Sh5,215,000 from the Bank’s Kenyatta avenue branch in Nairobi, an offence he is alleged to have committed between December 10, 2016 and January 5, 2017.

Ngacha was charged with conspiring to steal Sh1,265,917.87 between November 20, last year and January 8, 2022 at an unknown place in Kenya.

He is alleged to have committed the offence jointly with others not before court, with intent to defraud the said bank.

The employee was also charged with stealing the Sh 1.2 million by virtue of his employment at the bank.

Nyagemi was granted a cash bail of Sh1 million while Ngacha was granted a cash bail of S 200,000.

The court also directed them to provide one contact person.