'Broke' Sonko seeks access to frozen accounts

Governor wants orders issued by Judge Kimaru on February 6 set aside.

In Summary

• Sonko claims he is unable to support himself and his family financially. 

• He says there's no proof that the funds in his accounts are proceeds of crime.

Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko
Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko

Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko has said that he is unable to buy groceries and support his family after his bank accounts were frozen.

Through lawyer Harrison Kinyanjui, he wants orders issued on February 6 set aside to enable him to receive his salary.

On February 6, Justice Luka Kimaru froze 10 of his accounts holding about Sh18 million suspected to have been stolen from the county coffers.

The funds were deposited in six accounts at Equity Bank, three at Diamond Trust Bank and another at the Co-operative Bank of Kenya. The order was granted after the Assets Recovery Agency (ARA) cited suspicious cash deposits and withdrawals between 2017 and 2019.

In one account with Sh4.2 million, there were 35 deposits and withdrawals totalling Sh45 million between July 2017 and March 2019.

But the county chief, in his new application, says the orders were clearly obtained for extraneous reasons because there has not been any evidence to point that the money in his accounts originated from proceeds of crime.

“The agency did not furnish the court with any compelling grounds or proof to raise reasonable suspicion with respect to any fraudulent transaction related to his bank accounts in question. It only made unsubstantiated claims,” he says.

Sonko also argues that the order issued by Kimaru cannot be effective beyond 14 days, yet the ARA continues to rely on it to freeze his accounts.  He says the order ceased to have any life as it was never extended from the time it was originally issued.

Sonko also argues that he was not the Governor at the time the Agency claims some funds were lost from the county.

“It is not enough for the Agency to merely make allegations based on wild unspecified suspicions. I believe that the burden of proof lies with them to make out a strong case based on verifiable facts,” the county chief says in court papers.

Sonko now wants his matter placed before Justice Kimaru who issued the freezing orders so he can set them aside. Also sought is an order to have the application by the agency struck out.

 “I've never received any summons, telephone call or even a request in writing by the agency to date, to explain any deposit, withdrawal, transfer or transaction of the frozen accounts,” he says.

(Edited by F'Orieny)