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PROBE ALLOWED

Ex-CS Kiunjuri to be probed for money laundering

Opening documents, statements of accounts, cheque deposits, withdrawal slips to be scrutinised.

In Summary

• The agency will now investigate Kiunjuri's Equity bank accounts with the bank providing  transaction evidence.

• The agency wants records of transaction from as far back as January 1, 2014.

Former Agriculture CS Mwangi Kiunjuri
INVESTIGATION: Former Agriculture CS Mwangi Kiunjuri
Image: FILE

Former Agriculture CS Mwangi Kiunjuri's bank accounts will be investigated by the Asset Recovery Agency for money laundering. 

A magistrate’s court okayed the probe by ARA on Kiunjuri's accounts at Equity bank.

The agency wants records of transaction from as far back as January 1, 2014.

 

Investigators will access Kiunjuri's account opening documents, statements of accounts, cheque deposits, withdrawal slips and electronic cash transfers.

 
 
 

Kiunjuri is suspected to have collaborated with Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua in fraudulent payments when he was  Agriculture CS. 

The MP reportedly received suspicious monies from the National Irrigation Board, which was under Kiunjuri's docket. The board was recently moved to the Water Ministry.

“There are reasonable grounds to believe that the suspect’s bank accounts were used as conduit of money laundering in efforts to conceal, disguise the nature, source, disposition and movement of the illicit funds and should be preserved,” ARA said.

The agency was also allowed to probe other bank accounts held in the names of Petlico Agencies Company Ltd, Karandi Farm Ltd, Skytop Agencies, Riang International Group, Encartar Diagnostic Ltd and Beth Wacheri Wacunga.

Last week, the High Court froze Gachagua's four bank accounts. The lawmaker reportedly received about Sh5.8 billion in his accounts over seven years.

 
 
 
 

According to the investigators, the money is believed to be proceeds of crime through collusion.

"That on March 30, the Asset Recovery Agency obtained information that several accounts belonging to Gachagua received suspicious money transactions believed to be proceeds of crime as a suspected colluding with county government of Nyeri officials and state department of irrigation through companies owned by the MP and his close associates," ARA said.

The High Court order bars Gachagua from accessing more than Sh200 million in his accounts, pending a forfeiture petition. 

Justice John Onyiego's order barred the MP from accessing three accounts that allegedly hold Sh165 million, Sh35 million and Sh773,228. 

The fourth account registered in the name of Jenne Enterprises allegedly holds Sh1,138,142.

“That within the said period, there were massive suspicious cash withdrawals, transfers, inter and intra-bank transfers from other accounts to the accounts under investigations and other bank accounts owned by Gachagua in suspicious complex money-laundering schemes,” the ARA argued. 

The MP's accounts held at Rafiki Micro Finance Bank will remain frozen for 90 days. His office has also been sealed off as part of the ongoing investigations.

Last year, Kiunjuri was on the spot for the irregular withdrawal of  Sh1.8 billion from the Strategic Food Reserve Trust Fund account without approval of the board during his tenure.

The payment was allegedly for a pending bill for maize imported in 2017.

Kiunjuri dismissed the irregular payment claims saying the Sh1.8 billion payment was for pending bills owed to an importer.

The probe comes six months after Kiunjuri was fired. He served in the Agriculture docket from 2018 until his sacking on January 14, 2020.

The ex-CS is a close ally of Deputy President William Ruto. He launched a new political party last week — The Service Party — with an eye on the 2022 elections.

(edited by o. owino)