EACC established between January, 1, 2016 and August, 31, 2017, Gitau had assets worth Sh 111 million against his known income of Sh 1.8 million
But the man defended himself, saying the money was a result of his hard work and his employer had never complained of lost funds
A senior assistant accountant general at the Interior Ministry has been ordered to forfeit Sh113.3 million to government.
High Court Judge John Onyiego in a judgment delivered on December 3 agreed with the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission that Thomas Gitau had unexplained assets and directed same be forfeited.
Of the Sh116.5 million assets, Sh48.9 million is in cash in his bank accounts whereas Sh67.6 million is in properties.
According to court documents, EACC started investigating Gitau upon suspicion of huge cash deposits at his bank accounts and those of his wife.
The commission established between January, 1, 2016 and August, 31, 2017 that Gitau had assets worth Sh 111 million against his known income of Sh 1,893,414.35.
Consequently, the commission instituted a civil suit in the High Court.
Under Section 55 of the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act, the commission has the mandate to undertake investigations into allegations of corruption or economic crimes and, in appropriate cases, institute civil proceedings against any person for the recovery of assets whose value is disproportionate to his known legitimate sources of income.
The commission informed the court that it received credible information Gitau was engaged in corrupt conduct and had amassed assets well beyond his known legitimate sources of income.
“In particular, it was alleged that the first defendant was engaged in embezzlement and/or misappropriation of public funds through accessing unauthorized petty cash (“buffer cash”) by virtue of his position as a senior assistant accountant General,” EACC said.
The man, the commission said, had also unlawfully failed to pay taxes on the income earned during the period of investigation, save for PAYE.
Prior to filing the case, EACC sought to preserve Gitau’s assets for six months pending conclusion of investigations.
And on August, 25, 2017, the court issued orders prohibiting Gitau and wife from withdrawing, transferring, or in any way dealing with the monies in question.
After the lapse of the six months, EACC successfully made an application for an extension of the subsisting preservation orders for a further six months dated February 23, 2018.
On March 1, 2018, parties consented to have Gitau’s bank account held at Family Bank, being his salary account to be accessed by him, for upkeep save for funds available in the bank account between January 1, 2017 and August 31, 2017 amounting to Sh 1,139,570.
On his part Gitau denied engaging in any corrupt dealings.
He further raised doubts on investigations and evidence by EACC, saying they did not give any proof that the ministry had lost any monies.
He said there was no complaint from the ministry that it lost money, nor was there any evidence placed before court showing that he sat in any tender committee at the ministry.
A witness in the trial, George Wainana, he said, confirmed that no money was ever lost by the ministry and that Gitau always refunded all the unutilized money.
“This witness, my lord, negated the character created by the plaintiff (EACC) that the 1st defendant (Gitau) was a corrupt and dishonest public servant,” court was told.
In his explanation, Gitau had said that he had obtained some Sh40 million as loan and some of the money was rental income while some were dividends.
Two witnesses informed the court that they indeed advanced him friendly loans of Sh20 million each.
“The plaintiff claimed embezzlement of public funds but gave no iota of evidence for any embezzlement,” Gitau said.
He argued that EACC was using anti-corruption laws to criminalize hard work of a public officer who has earned his promotion since 1990 through sheer hard work and without single case of indiscipline.