CIVIL SERVANT FIGHTS EACC OVER SH500M IN 22 BANK ACCOUNTS

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Benson Musila Muteti, an official at Kenya Rural Roads Agency (KeRRA has defended the source of half a billion shillings in 22 bank accounts, saying his wealth is not built from kickbacks and bribes from road contractors.

Mr. Muteti says he accumulated his wealth from running businesses including bars, hardware stores and schools, with some of the properties acquired before he joined KeRRA in the 1990s.

Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) has accused Mr. Muteti of getting kickbacks from contractors and awarding State tenders to a company associated with his brother.

The agency said multiple deposits were made into Mr. Muteti’s 19 bank accounts at KCB and an account each at Cooperative Bank, NBK and Absa Bank, between February 2009 and December 2018.

Through his lawyer Migos Ogamba, Mr. Muteti said that the EACC had not singled out any of his properties that was acquired through corruption. He added that other than his salary at KeRRA where he was the Coast regional manager, he had other sources of income. The lawyer further said his client had demonstrated that he acquired most of the assets as early as 1994 through instalments.

EACC said the bank accounts and the real estate property in Nairobi, Makueni and Kilifi counties could not have been acquired with his monthly salary of Sh390,000, arguing that he was a beneficiary of kickbacks from road contractors. Other than the money in four banks, the EACC has applied to seize 27 properties, shares in multiple companies and schools linked to Mr. Muteti, his spouse Zipporah Mwongeli and their companies, saying they are part of unexplained wealth worth Sh952.3 million.

Mr. Muteti told the court that the agency did not identified a contractor, individual and or company who bribed him to get tenders from KeRRA. He further added that EACC has never summoned or questioned him about the said allegations. He pleaded with the court to lift the order freezing the assets. He said he had no plans of selling the properties and should the court be convinced to uphold the freezing order, it should be on specific properties and not a blanket order.

Pius Nyoike, EACC lawyer, said once money was paid to his company, which was being run by a relative, it was wired to Mr. Muteti’s accounts. The lawyer told the court that the properties were at risk of being sold if the freezing orders are lifted.

Mr. Nyoike said although Mr. Muteti was suspended, he was still earning half his salary and getting more than Sh. 350,000 monthly from rental income. He said Mr. Muteti was given a chance to explain how he accumulated the wealth but his response was not satisfactory. Additionally, the lawyer revealed that investigations were conducted and established that Mr. Muteti was in possession of assets hugely disproportionate to his known legitimate source of income.

According to court documents, his wealth is would be worth Sh.136 million for the 119 months he has worked at KeRRA. The properties targeted from Mr. Musila and his wife include seven apartments, eight commercial and residential plots, two schools — Mumbe Junior Academy and Mumbe Girls High School, as well as shares worth Sh2.24 million, four vehicles and a hardware store worth Sh41 million.

High Court Judge Esther Maina will decide whether to lift the freezing order on January 27, 2022.

All public servants have always been subjected to lifestyle audit and must account for their wealth. Most of the accused government officials seem to have amassed wealth within a short period of time by fleecing the various departments they work for through kickbacks and bribes mostly during the procurement process. Such fraudulent activities by a few individuals in different government departments have either made service delivery unachievable to the publics or led to substandard infrastructure in the country. Through these investigations, freezing of suspicious accounts and recoveries, the government is able to provide better services and put up good infrastructure as well us boost the county’s economy.

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