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How an official bought Sh279m houses in days

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Economy

How an official bought Sh279m houses in days


Kileleshwa Estate in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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  • Muthui bought 11 apartments in Kileleshwa for 264 million shillings in cash between July and September 24, 2019.
  • He acquired another 12 units in a Ruaka flat in June 2019 for 15 million shillings.

A deputy director of the Kenya Rural Roads Authority (KeRRA) bought most of 35 apartments in the four months to September 2019, when Kenya withdrew the old Sh1,000 bill to deal with illicit financial flows.

The Asset Recovery Agency (ARA) has raised the red flag that the apartments worth Sh374.5 million and Sh94 million in bank accounts linked to Margaret Wanja Muthui were the product of illicit deals, including bribes from contractors of roads.

The ARA successfully petitioned the court to freeze the assets with the aim of confiscating them from the state, arguing that his salary cannot support the purchase of multi-million dollar shilling properties within a few weeks.

In a certified urgent petition, the state agency says Ms Muthui purchased 11 apartments in Kileleshwa for Sh264 million in cash between July and September 24, 2019.

It acquired another 12 units in a Ruaka flat in June 2019 for 15 million shillings, days after the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) set September 30, 2019 as the deadline to convert the old 1,000 shillings note into new ones after it became the banknote of choice. for the criminals of the country.

Those who exchanged large amounts had to explain how they acquired the cash. The measure was designed to stop the flow of proceeds from crimes such as corruption and banknote counterfeiting through the financial sector.

Ms Muthui is said to have bought 23 apartments worth Sh279 million during the four months the old banknotes were withdrawn and paid cash for the properties, court documents show.

The cash deals were intended to hide the money from the CBK, which said that notes worth 7.4 billion shillings were not exchanged, which would invalidate the cash and hit the alleged corrupt owners hard.

The agency says that Ms Muthui allegedly bought the apartments herself or through proxies and a company whose directors were mostly relatives or proxies of her. Documents filed in court showed that in early March 2019 he purchased a 12-unit flat in Ruaka for 15 million shillings.

Later, Ms Muthui acquired a house in Nairobi and land in Riruta, Dagoretti and registered them in the name of other people to conceal the origin of the funds.

On Tuesday, Judge James Wakiaga also allowed the freezing of Sh94 million held in various accounts at Co-operative Bank #ticker: COOP and registered under different persons, pending the determination of the petition.

Judge Wakiaga also ordered the chief land registrar to record warnings against each of the 374.5 million apartments and houses in a move designed to stop their transfer or sale.

The judge also ordered the preservation of rental income from all apartments and houses.

The rental income will be deposited into a KCB #ticker: KCB account belonging to the ARA, pending the determination of the case.

Ms Muthui, who is deputy director in charge of supply chain management at KeRRA, was transferred to the Infrastructure department earlier this year.

She resisted the move and petitioned the High Court, which reversed the transfer, leaving her in the cash-rich KeRRA.

The ARA has named Ms. Esther Wagio Njunge, Ms. Muthui, Ms. Grace Nyambura Ndiritu, Ms. Mercy Wambui Nyambura and Cynthia Wanjiku Nyambura, as well as Light House Trading Company Ltd as defendants in the case. The directors of the company are Mrs. Wagio and Mrs. Wacuka.

The frozen funds include Sh74.7 million in fixed account with Co-op Bank in the name of Ms. Wagio, Sh13.9 million in the name of Ms Muthui and Sh4.8 million in Co-op Bank in the name of Light House. Commercial enterprise.

Also frozen is a residential house in Nairobi, known as Collingham Gardens, which was purchased for 55 million shillings on August 1, 2016.

Documents filed with the court showed that the land in Dagoretti was purchased by Ms. Wagio on December 18, 2020 for Sh25 million from Ms. Rosemary Wanjiku Gathuku.

The agency said respondents were reported to have acquired funds and assets through money laundering and are believed to be proceeds of crime.

The ARA then went to court and was allowed to investigate the accounts. The 11 apartments in Kileleshwa were purchased for cash from Ceytun East Africa Ltd and registered in the name of the company, Ms Wagio, Ms Ndiritu and Ms Wanjiku.

The seller is a limited company incorporated in Turkey, known as Ceytun Insaat Sanayi Ve Ticaret and the property developer was Ceytun East Africa Ltd.

It was revealed that on July 28, 2019, Ms Muthui, accompanied by her attorney, went to the Ceytun East Africa offices at Signature Apartments in Kileleshwa and paid Necmi Karatas, the company’s sales manager, Sh20 .5 million in cash for an apartment. The apartment generates a monthly income of Sh116,000.

He bought a second apartment on August 21, 2019 for 22 million shillings, and according to the ARA, the house generates a monthly income of 170,000 shillings.

Ms. Wacuka bought another apartment for Sh25 million on September 24, 2019 and receives a monthly rent of Sh250,000.

The petition stated that Ms. Wagio, the company, Ms. Ndiritu and Ms. Wanjiku were used as conduits for money laundering by Ms. Muthui, for the purpose of concealing the source of funds and beneficial ownership of the properties in question.

The ARA said that the funds in the three accounts were deposited on various dates between 2015 and 2021 and the maturity period is April 16, 2022.

The first deposit was made on April 13, 2015 when Ms. Muthui transferred Sh39 million from her account to Ms. Wagio’s account via RTGS.

On June 4, 2015, Ms. Wagio transferred Sh39 million from her Equity Bank account to her Co-op Bank account via RTGS. The same account was to receive Sh3 million on June 8 of the same year.

On July 26, 2017, the funds had accrued interest and amounted to Sh49.8 million and it is alleged that Ms Wagio transferred the money to another account at the same bank in a fixed deposit account.

On April 12 of this year, Ms. Muthui reportedly deposited Sh13 million into a fixed deposit account. “There are reasonable grounds to believe that the funds and assets in question were illegally acquired, and therefore constitute the proceeds of crime that can be recovered in accordance with the provisions of the Act on Assets of Crime and Anti-Money Laundering,” said the ARA in the petition.

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