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Court orders senior Interior ministry officer to return Sh113m of unexplained wealth

The Anti-Corruption Court in Nairobi has ordered a senior Interior ministry officer to return more than Sh100m worth of unexplained wealth.

Thomas Njogu (pictured) is accused by the anti-graft agency of siphoning Sh113m from public coffers in a span of one year and eight months.

Justice John Onyiego in his decree in favour of Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC), ordered Mr Gitau who is a senior assistant accountant, to surrender Sh48 million in cash and properties worth Sh67 million as he could not explain how he amassed the same within a short period of time.

“The burden of proof lay on the defendant (Gitau) to explain how he acquired the wealth after the plaintiff (EACC) questioned its source,” said Justice Onyiego.

It emerged that Gitau earned at least Sh155,000 gross pay. However, his accounts had Sh111 million cash, which excluded his salary.

The anti-graft watchdog started investigating Gitau sometime in 2017 after a tip-off that he was making explained cash deposits in several intervals in a day.

Grace Maina, EACC lawyer, told the court that the accountant would deposit cash in his bank accounts multiple times in a day and would ensure that the amount would not surpass Sh1 million to avoid questions on his source of money.

During investigations, the commission netted $3,500 and a further Sh6.9 million in his office at Harambee House.

Gitau explained that the Sh6.9m was petty cash, but could not provide supporting documents. He is said to have volunteered to return Sh200,000 from the Sh350,000 during the probe.

According to Maina, EACC also found Sh1.2m in his house located at Marurui estate, Nairobi County.

The probe established that he had bought a house at Thome Estate worth Sh27m and another one in Kajiado worth Sh26m. He had also purchased a Toyota Hilux car at Sh624,000.

EACC added that he had another property at Kabete which is valued at Sh17.5m and another one at Euaso Nyiro worth Sh1.7m.

“Your Lordship, the litigants are in agreement that one way or another, the defendant came to be in possession of assets worth over Sh100m between January 2016 and August 2017. The only point of departure is the source of that income. The plaintiff alleges it was acquired through corrupt conduct and has demonstrated facts giving rise to its reasonable suspicion,” argued Maina.

The man had five accounts at Equity Bank, two at Co-operative Bank, two at Family Bank and one at Barclays Bank.

In the case where Gitau’s wife Teresiah Njeri had also been named as a defendant, he explained that cash deposits were mostly made up of friendly loans, family savings, rental income and proceeds of sale of land.

According to Gitau, he had two friendly loans from two friends — Ann Wathatu Ngururi and Francis Mureithi — which amounted to Sh40m in cash.

However, Ngururi and Mureithi could not provide collateral he had used to secure the massive loan. They could not also provide an agreement on how Gitau would pay the loan. 

The court heard that Ngururi and Mureithi could not provide bank statements to show their source of the money.

Annual turnover

Ngururi explained that she had a supermarket with a Sh100,000 turnover and rentals with an annual turnover of about Sh10m. She could not provide supporting documents to prove her argument that she had loaned Gitau Sh20 million.

Mureithi, who is also said to have given Gitau Sh20m, told the court that he had known latter for only five years and he was to buy his (Gitau’s) land in Kajiado at Sh55m. Gitau had bought the same property five months before floating it for sale at Sh55m.

The saga unveiled another puzzle as Mureithi told investigators that he was 20 years old. How he got huge amounts led to the conclusion he was dealing in suspicious transactions.

-www.standardmedia.co.ke

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