The fight to recover billions lost through the infamous Anglo Leasing scandal got a set back after the Court of Appeal barred lead anti-graft body Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) from auctioning properties worth millions of shillings belonging to a former National Treasury Chief Accountant suspected to have benefited from the scandal’s proceeds.
Justice Mumbi Ngugi had in November last year, allowed the anti-graft body to recover the money from the belonging to Patrick Ochieno Abachi properties estimated to be worth Kshs.80 million as at 2008.
The EACC says that the properties which among them nine parcels of land in Mavoko (Machakos) and Kitengela (Kajiado), a four-bedroom house in Mavoko, four apartments in Parkview Estate South C, a house in Mugoya Estate and a property in Nyali, Mombasa are proceeds of crime and should be forfeited to the government. Other assets include five motor vehicles, money in three accounts and Kshs.1.99 million in cash, which was seized from his house.
Justices Asike Makhandia, Jamila Mohammed and Dr Imaana Laibuta, who heard Abachi’s appeal, said that it was only fair to preserve the properties and stop EACC from selling them pending the determination of the appeal.
Abachi contends that among the properties to be seized by EACC was his Kitengela family home in and others, which he said he acquired long before the alleged period under investigations.
Allowing the appeal, the Appeal Court judges noted that if EACC seizes the home, it would lead to eviction and cause hardship to Abachi and his family. Selling the assets would also introduce 3rd parties and would make the reversal to the applicants difficult, saying that EACC would not suffer prejudice.
Then High Court Justice, Ngugi noted that Abachi failed to explain the source of the funds, which was not commensurate with his gross salary. EACC said investigations revealed that he was directly involved in the Anglo Leasing transactions and authorised the payments. The anti-graft body says he failed to declare the properties in his wealth declaration forms. He is suspected of having used his position to improperly confer benefits to himself within five years.
Evidence showed that Abachi used to make daily deposits of up to Kshs.70,000 in two days and, on average Kshs.300,000 monthly, with a net salary of Kshs.35,000.
Many public officials caught out in suspect wealth have also been found to have failed to reveal the same in the bi-annual wealth declaration periods enacted in law, raising suspicions that the hidden wealth was illegally gotten.