EACC targets engineer’s Sh950m assets
Bernice Mbugua and Mathew Ndung’u
The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) has initiated the process of recovering nearly Sh1 billion in cash and assets belonging to a Kenya Rural Roads Authority (KeRRA) employee, his wife and companies associated with the couple.
The commission says it has evidence to show KeRRA Coast regional Manager Benson Muteti Masila, his wife Zipporah Muteti and companies associated with them are beneficiaries of corruption.
Last week, the High Court stopped Masila from disposing off assets and money which are the subject of investigations by the commission.
Masila has been accused by EACC of amassing huge wealth accrued through kickbacks from mainly road contractors awarded tenders in Kilifi, Mombasa and Makueni counties, among other unexplained sources.
The engineer allegedly used his wife and his associated companies; Mumbe Junior Academy Limited, Mumbe Boys High School, Mumbe Girls High School and Mumbe Hardware & Supplies Limited, as vehicles to launder money acquired through corruption.
The anti-graft body was initially targeting more than Sh1.03 billion but Musila satisfactorily explained properties with a cumulative value of Sh78.7 million but failed to explain assets worth Sh952,363,824.
At the heart of the investigations are seven apartments, eight commercial and residential plots, two schools – Mumbe Junior Academy and Mumbe Girls High School, bank and Mpesa deposits amounting to Sh567,626,872, landed properties valued at Sh347,040,000, motor vehicles valued at Sh5,350,000, listed shares valued at Sh2,240,000, and insurance policies with a maturity value of Sh30,106,952.
The couple runs hardware stores in Makindu, Makueni and Ruaraka in Nairobi, while their son runs a construction company known as Mumbe Construction.
EACC claims that, during the period of interest in which Masila, his wife and companies were reasonably suspected of corruption and economic crimes, they accumulated assets in land properties, bank and mobile money (Mpesa) deposits, motor vehicles, listed shares and insurance policies which assets were disproportionate to their known legitimate sources of income .
“In particular, investigations established that Masila took undue advantage of his position of trust to confer benefits upon himself through awarding tenders to Skai Kenya Limited, a company directly associated with him through his brother, in complete disregard of the provisions of Section 33 of the Public Procurement and Disposal Act, 2005, and Section 42 of the Anti Corruption and Economic Crimes Act on conflict of interest,” EACC says in court documents.
Once Skai Kenya Limited received payment from KeRRA, EACC claims that the funds were electronically transferred to Mumbe Junior Academy Limited, Mumbe Girls High School and Mumbe Hardware.
According to EACC, the schools and hardwares were nascent medium and small-sized private establishments operating sub-optimally which Masila used as conduits to receive, hold or otherwise conceal funds acquired in the course of or as a reault of corrupt conduct.
EACC also claims that in the period of interest, Masila illegally received technical allowance from contractors in addition to retaining payments supposed to be remitted to staff working under him as the resident engineer for various projects contracted by KeRRA.
“In the period of interest the 1st respondent (Masila) received technical allowance from contractors , for which he was not legally entitled as he was already a full-time employee of KeRRA.
Investigations further established that there was a huge disparity between what he claimed from contractors as allowances for staff working under him as a resident engineer and what he remitted to them,” states Feiza Abdi, an investigating officer with the commission.
The anti-graft body claims that Masila perpetuated the above deception by maintaining two different schedules of payment where he used one schedule to claim payment from contractors and another schedule to effect payment to his staff.
“The respondents have in the past engaged in schemes to conceal the illicit assets in family members, businesses fronts and corporate entities in an effort to distance the assets from their illegitimate source,” argues EACC.
The civil servant, whose monthly pay is Sh339,000, accumulated his wealth between 2009 and 2018.
The University of Nairobi engineering graduate previously worked as a public works officer and roads engineer in various stations in the country including Bungoma. The case will be heard on August 16.