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Inside multi-billion empire on EACC radar: EACC files recovery suit against top dogs

Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) offices at Integrity Centre in Nairobi. EACC is yet to pursue those named in the Kroll Report

A senior official in the Ministry of Interior deposited an average of Sh1 million shillings daily in his bank accounts for seven months, EACC investigations have revealed.

According to documents filed in court, the money was wired into the accounts of Thomas Gitau Njongu, a senior assistant accountant general at the Ministry of Interior, his wife Teresia Njeri and their four firms. 

The average Sh1 million deposits were made between January 2017 and July of the same year as the country was heading into the hotly contested general elections. 

The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission says that between January 1, 2016, to July 31, 2017, the couple had received Sh115 million in their bank accounts.

This excludes Gitau’s salary which totals Sh1.8 million for the 19 months.

When EACC detectives stormed Gitau’s office at Harambee House in 2017, they recovered $3,500 and Sh6.9 million.

At his residence in Marurui Estate, detectives recovered Sh1.2 million.

EACC alleges that Gitau was engaged in misappropriation of taxpayers’ money through accessing unauthorised petty cash.

Anti-graft detectives believe the Sh115 million are proceeds of crime. They have mapped Njongu’s multi-million shilling properties in Nairobi’s Thome estate, Kitengela and Kabete to have them forfeited to the government. 

Gitau’s case is just one example of a gruelling legal battle EACC is engaged in with top government officials to reclaim what is believed to be looted billions in a new and lethal anti-graft strategy. 

The Star has established that in three months alone, between January and March this year, the EACC has recovered more than Sh2.7 billion through court proceedings and out-of-court deals.

Just last week, a three-judge bench ordered a former finance parastatal boss to surrender Sh41 million to the State after failing to explain how he acquired it.

The Court of Appeal judgement against ex-National Water Conservation and Pipeline Corporation Finance Manager Stanley Mombo Amuti is a major victory for the EACC.

It sets a precedent in the contentious matter of ‘unexplained assets’.

EACC director of investigations Abdi Mohamud told the Star that an effective anti-graft strategy should not only be limited to securing convictions alone but also recovering of public funds.

“The corrupt are often willing to pay a fine or serve a custodial sentence in the knowledge they can return to their opulent lifestyle subsequently. Removing the profit removes that perk and subsequently the appeal to act,” Abdi said.

Another intriguing EACC case is against former Deputy Auditor General Stephen Ndung’u Kinuthia who is alleged to have received kickbacks in the purchase of a Sh100 million software system, known as an audit vault.

Investigations revealed that on November 7, 2013, the Auditor General’s office paid Sh100,675,680 to Open Systems Integration (OSI) Kenya.

However as soon as the company received the payments, it started dishing out kickbacks through different bank accounts and law firms.

Part of the cash was transferred to Njuguna and Partners accounts at NIC bank of which Sh446,000 was later wired directly to Kinuthia’s account.

Another Sh13 million was paid to one David Maina for the purchase of some three parcels in Murang’a.

The parcels were transferred to Enkai Holdings Limited which EACC later discovered is owned by Kinuthia’s three children.

The commission is seeking to recover over Sh40 million from Kinuthia and several companies involved in the deal. 

EACC has also filed a suit for recovery of assets worth Sh1.3 billion against former Nairobi County Chief Finance Officer Jimmy Mutuku Kiamba.

EACC said that during the period between August 2009 and February 2015, Kiamba made bank deposits totalling to Sh1.3 billion against his total net salary of Sh5,821,309.

The money was used to acquire several properties in high-end areas in Nairobi and Machakos counties that EACC is fighting to be forfeited to the public.

The EACC is also seeking to recover Sh615 million from a former manager at the troubled Kenya Revenue Authority, Joseph Gikonyo, who was on a Sh119,000 monthly salary.

The anti-graft agency established that Gikonyo has massive immovable property spread across Nairobi, Nyali, Kilifi and Kwale counties valued at Sh355 million, and cash deposits in various banks totalling Sh399 million.

EACC is also seeking to recover more than 340 million from former accountant at City Hall Stephen Ogaga Osiro and his wife Caroline Adhiambo.

The couple has tens of plots across Nairobi, Kajiado and Kisumu counties as well as high-end cars.

On April 11, 2019, the EACC scored a major court victory against Lima Ltd and recovered five parcels in Eldoret.

The judgement by Justice Ombwayo cancelled all the titles and issued orders of permanent injunction against Lima Ltd.

These are the parcels of land where the Eldoret High Court, the County Fire Station and the Administration Police Camp are located. 

The Commission also recovered nine parcels in Nakuru county worth over Sh227 million, which were handed over to the government March 21 this year.

The EACC also rescued a Sh2 billion property belonging to the University of Nairobi from a private developer.

The developer, Aberdares Engineering Contractors Limited, had laid claim to the 4.97 acres in Kilimani, Nairobi.

The university’s staff estate stands on the parcel, which is located at the junction of Argwings Kodhek and Galana roads.

The commission also recovered 142 acres belonging to the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) in Naivasha.

The land is valued at Sh490 million.

On Friday, the EACC arrested top officials of  the Communication Authority of Kenya over alleged procurement irregularities.

The anti-graft agency is fighting to maintain the anti-graft crackdown at a time concerns are being raised that the country is against losing the war against corruption.

On Friday last week, Catholic bishops criticised the government over its commitment in the fight against corruption, saying that the enthusiasm to stamp out graft has waned.

– www.the-star.co.ke

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