High Court Justice James Wakiaga has barred Margaret Muthui, Kenya Rural Roads Authority (KERRA) Deputy Director for Supply Chain Management, from accessing her bank accounts and selling properties worth millions of shillings, allegedly acquired using stolen public funds.
Asset Recovery Agency (ARA) asked the court to freeze the assets and bank accounts belonging to Ms. Muthui who is suspected of embezzling public funds to enable their forfeiture and confiscation to the state.
ARA investigations revealed that Muthui bought 11 apartments in upmarket Kileleshwa Estate in Nairobi at Kshs 264.5 million in cash within three months. She paid for each of the apartments but did not register any of them in her name. Instead, Ms. Muthui listed Esther Wagio Njunge, Lighthouse Trading Company, Grace Ndiritu, Mercy Nyambura and Cynthia Nyambura who are her accomplices as the owners of the apartments. The cash for the purchase was obtained from a company known as Ceytun East Africa which was registered in the names of Lighthouse Trading company, Mercy and Cynthia.
ARA told the court that Muthui’s accounts had received suspicious funds believed to be proceeds of crime through a money laundering scheme on April 13 2015, when Muthui transferred through RTGS suspicious funds Kshs. 39 Million from her account in Cooperative Bank to Esther’s account in Equity Bank. Later, on July 26, 2017, she placed Sh49,857,670 in a fixed deposit account. The money accumulated an interest of Ksh.18,742,330, with the new total amount of to Sh68,600,000 also deposited in a fixed deposit account for a period of 12 months beginning April 16, 2021. The maturity date of the Sh68.6 Million is April 16, 2022, whose expected interest is Sh6,174,000 leading to the total amount at maturity to be Sh74,774,000.
Given the timing of the asset purchase during the demonetization period in 2019, it appears that Muthui and her accomplices were working hard to launder the illegitimately obtained cash to avoid losses or detection by authorities.
Justice Wakiaga issued a preservation order prohibiting the respondents and their employees, agents, servants or any other person acting on their behalf from selling, transferring, charging or dealing in any manner with the 11 apartments located Kileleshwa pending determination of the suit.
The court also issued an order of preservation barring Light House Trading Company from selling, transferring or dealing in any manner with 2 properties in Ruaka, a house at Collingham Gardens in Nairobi and land in Riruta.
Muthui and accomplices were also barred from collecting any rental income from the properties in question with the same to be deposited in the Asset Recovery Agency account at Kenya Commercial Bank, pending hearing and determination of the intended forfeiture case. They were also directed to surrender to ARA the original land titles documents, leases or registration documents for all the contested properties within the next seven days.
Additionally, Justice Wakiaga ordered the Chief Land Registrar to register caveats against each of the apartments and properties stated in the case.
The war on graft is gradually bearing fruit if the forfeitures witnessed by ARA are anything to go by. Theft of public funds meant for the country’s development has to stop for the country to achieve its developmental agenda.