Several people who forfeited millions of shillings to the government gave laughable and, in some instances, bizarre explanations of how they got the money. From friends who loan them without conditions, inheritance from parents to businesses but failing to attach documents to support the claims, the tales have been many and varied.
Courts, however, have been quick to dismiss such tales and ordered the government to seize the money or property. For those who have lost millions in the purge, the concept has been, you fail to explain the source of assets, you forfeit the wealth.
Thomas Gitau Njogu, a civil servant at the Interior ministry and his wife Teresia Njeri, lost more than Sh112 million after failing to explain the huge deposits in their accounts, cash retrieved from their home and properties they had acquired.
Mr Njogu, a senior assistant accountant general in the ministry, could not explain how he got the money and properties he acquired in Thome (Nairobi), Kiambu and Kajiado.
According to the judge, the court had reasonable suspicion that he had access to unauthorised office cash referred to as “buffer cash” in the ministry and was appropriating the money for his benefit. The money was deposited into various bank accounts daily through his wife.
In his defence, Mr Njogu stated that $3,500 (Sh374,500) comprised $2,000 (Sh214,000) given as a gift by a friend while on a trip to Korea, imprest received from his employer and for the Sh1,240,000 found in his residence some Sh300,000 he borrowed from a friend for paying fundis at a construction site while Sh751,060 was part of a loan advanced to him and his wife by one Anne Ngururi a long-time family friend to boost their retail business.
He explained that he borrowed the Sh20 million used to buy their Thome home from Francis Mureithi, another friend. His wife also claimed that she borrowed Sh20 million from her friend Ann to acquire the same house.
After analysing the evidence, Justice John Onyiego said the evidence or explanations were not satisfactory.
The judge said there was no evidence to convince the court that Ann could have the monies she kept loaning them.
“How come it is only Mureithi Francis and Ann Ngururi who have ready money to be lent to their friends? Admittedly, as a general principle, there is nothing wrong in a friend lending money to a friend.
“However, each case must be dealt with on its merit. In this case, the explanation given does not add up and therefore not satisfactory.
Accordingly, the amount in the said account must and is hereby, forfeited to the State,” said the judge.
The judge dismissed the explanation as rather ridiculous to any ordinary person.
“Although I am not a market expert and a land valuer, it is unbelievable. The only logical conclusion is that the defendants were engaged in money laundering,” said the judge said adding that Ann lent them money up to 13 times in a month, without any conditions.
“In the ordinary course of doing business, an individual may lend friend money but not in the exaggerated manner being displayed here. I do not buy this camouflaged kind of imaginary borrowing with the obvious intention of trying to clean some illicit money,” he said.
Mr Stanley Amuti, a former finance manager at the National Water Conservation and Pipeline Corporation, lost about Sh42 million in cash and properties after the court dismissed his explanation of how he made the money.
Some of the unexplained assets, which he forfeited to the government, include seven parcels of land in Ngong, four motor vehicles and money in local and foreign bank accounts as well as cash seized from his home and office.
Evidence presented to the court showed that the properties were valued at Sh32.5 million while the cumulative bank deposits he made between September 2007 and June 30, 2008, were Sh140.9 million.
In defence, Mr Amuti explained the source of his wealth, saying he was nominated to manage his late father’s and brothers’ estates.
The former civil servant said he consolidated their assets, sold them and invested the funds for upkeep and education of his late brothers’ children.
But he failed to table evidence to support his claims.
The other explanation was that a friend identified as Samuel Gitonga loaned him Sh9.5 million while another, only identified as a Sudanese national paid him Sh15.5 million ‘professional fees’. He, however, did not explain the said professional work he undertook.
While dismissing his appeal, a bench of three judges said Mr Amuti should have called these friends who gave him the loans.
“In our considered view, a person with lawful income has no trouble proving the legal origin of his or her assets.
The law protects only the rights of those who acquire property by licit means. Those who acquire property unlawfully cannot claim protection provided by the legal system,” said the judges.
In yet another case, Sostenah Ogero Taracha lost Sh18 million deposited in his accounts and other money found in his home.
The man, whose wife worked at the National Land Commission, was being investigated for cash paid out as compensation to persons whose land the construction of the standard gauge railway took up.
Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission officers visited his residence at Harambee Estate on May 4, 2017, at around 5.30am and informed him that they had obtained a search warrant. After the search, the officers recovered Sh1 million, some 1,689 notes in 100 US dollars and two bills of $50.
Mr Taracha informed the officers that he had money in his bedroom for his businesses. The officers then retrieved a suitcase, which had the money, took inventory and continued with their search in the other rooms. After failing to get anything else, took the money.
He told the court that he had borrowed the money from a microfinance institution, relatives and friends as well as his daughter. His daughter told the court that the money was part of Sh21 million her Sudanese step-father (identified as Ibrahim Issa) gave to her buy a house for herself and her stepbrother.
The woman claimed to have lent money to her father (Mr Taracha) whom they had reunited with courtesy of her mother Asenath Kwamboka. The mother, she said, died before Ibrahim gave her the money. But the court dismissed the explanation stating that from the pleadings and testimony, there is no proof that the step-father gave the amount to the woman.
“There was no evidence of official declaration either to the Sudanese Embassy or Central Bank of Kenya that such a large sum of money had been brought into the country, when and by who,” said the judge.
In 2018, a businesswoman lost Sh19.6 million to the government after the High Court dismissed her explanation of how she obtained the money.
Pamela Aboo said she was in the transport business and also dealt in cereals. But Justice Hedwig Ong’udi dismissed her defence because she did not back her claims with evidence.
Her husband — Alex Mukhwana Khisa — worked with Kenya Revenue Authority. The Assets Recovery Agency suspected he was the one depositing the money.
The amounts were deposited almost daily between Sh100,000 and Sh700,000. When questioned, the investigators said Ms Aboo did not even know the amount of money in her accounts.
She failed to produce any business licence, permits or compliance documents, to confirm the existence of any legal business or trade. The businesswoman said she purchases cereals from Busia and sells in various markets. According to the woman, she does not deposit any cash in Busia and so carries it to Nairobi where she deposits the money in bits.
The judge said it could be true that the woman does business with persons identified as Samson Waweru and Jonathan Kimindu and her own business, “but where is the evidence?” the judge posed.
The judge said although no law prohibits one from depositing money and there is also no offence committed if one fails to withdraw their money, but wondered how she was running her business without making any withdrawals. “One is at liberty to deposit even a billion shillings, but the person must be ready to share the source of such huge deposits with the relevant authorities. When no satisfactory explanation is forthcoming, the court will take it that the same was not lawfully acquired,” said the judge.
She added that there was no explanation of the source of the huge deposits into the three accounts and a glance at the cash deposits made at Donholm branch, would call for an explanation.
The three accounts had Sh19,688,152 and were opened between April 20, 2014, and March 2017 while the funds were deposited between 2015-2017.
In a case pending in court, the EACC wants Sh47 million deposited by a traffic police officer forfeited to the government after the officer failed to explain how he got the money.
Evidence presented in court by EACC showed that Jamal Bare Mohammed was a rider who used to patrol the Garissa-Thika Highway.
The anti-corruption agency said it tracked the police officer and recorded him receiving bribes after the public complained. The EACC told the court that the officer was allowed to explain how he made the money after finding a disparity between his assets and his known legitimate sources of income.
Evidence produced in court showed that the 43-year-old officer used to make deposits in tranches of between Sh200,000 and Sh500,000 every week.
In the six years, the court heard, Mr Bare’s gross salary was between Sh33,050 and Sh38,630, per month, totalling to Sh1.8 million.
Mr Bare defended himself, saying his earnings were legitimate. The traffic officer said he was the sole custodian of his late father’s wealth, acting as trustee on behalf of his family and relatives.
He said after his father died in 1987, he took up the role of managing the inheritance after seeking the wise counsel of the rest of the family and relatives while adhering to Islamic law.
But the EACC dismissed the claims, arguing that he was only ten years old when his father died and there was nothing to back his claims.
Mr Bare also claimed that he traded in livestock trade using the livestock, which he inherited from his father for more than 20 years and that the business attracted good returns.
The officer, who joined the police in August 1996, claimed he inherited some 120 camels, 80 cows and 200 goats from his father. He said the animals had multiplied to 217 camels, 180 cows and 268.
The EACC, however, giving him the benefit of the doubt, said the animals, according to his valuation were about Sh4.3 million and the rest of the property and money were unexplained assets.