State to recover assets linked to NYS suspects

Friday, July 24th, 2020 00:00 |
National Youth Service servicemen working on security officers uniforms and face masks at their headquarters in Nairobi. Photo/PD/Gerald Ithana

High Court has ordered the seizure of several multi-million shilling properties and vehicles linked to eight suspects in the Sh791 million National Youth Service (NYS) scandal. 

The properties to be surrendered include a mansion at Kasarani in Nairobi worth Sh21 million, a piece of land in Ruiru in Kiambu County worth Sh3.8 million and four Toyota Prados linked to the eight suspects. Justice Mumbi Ngugi ruled that the Assets Recovery Agency (ARA) had proved the said properties were proceeds of crime.

The respondents in the case include Samuel Wachenje alias Sam Mwadime, Susan Mkiwa Mndanyi, Vandame John, Anthony Kihara Gethi, Charity Wangui Gethi, Ndung’u John, Gachoka Paul and James Kisingo who have been charged with money laundering in the Sh791 million NYS scandal.

“It is my finding and I so hold that the assets which are the subject of this matter owned directly or indirectly by the respondents are proceeds of crime and should be forfeited to ARA on behalf of the State,” ruled Justice Ngugi.

The Agency had sued the eight suspects, arguing that they acquired the said properties from proceeds of crime.

The eight did not respond to the application despite being served with the documents.  

According to the Agency, the application was based on the investigations carried out by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) into the allegations of theft and fraud of funds amounting to Sh791,385,000 from the Ministry of Devolution.

The Agency argued that investigations revealed massive schemes of frauds and money laundering thus rendering the said properties proceeds of crime liable for seizure and forfeiture.

Assets recovery claimed that investigations established that Samuel Wachenje, had approached one Tirus Kamau Mutoru and his wife Esther Ntheya Nzioki to buy from them a house registered in the name of Ntheya situated in Kasarani. 

The house was valued at  Sh21 million. “Wachenje, after purchase of the house registered the property under his wife’s name Susan Mkiwa Mndanyi,” the Agency had argued in court.

Similar manner 

According to ARA, the Ruiru, Juja block was bought in a similar manner .It was purchased from Agnes Wambui Ngigi at Sh3,875,000 by Josephine Kabura.

The judge, in her ruling noted that, though right to property is guaranteed to all under the Constitution, it does not extend to property that is unlawfully acquired. 

“From the facts presented by the Agency which have not been controverted by the respondents, the assets in this matter were purchased using funds stolen from the NYS,” she ruled.

Justice Mumbi noted that the assets were then registered in the names of the respondents or their associates. 

“The manner of dealing with funds from the NYS from the account of Kabura to the account of Wachenje, the purchase of assets by Mwadime, the purchase of motor vehicles by Anthony Kihara Gethi and registration in the name of John Ndung’u and the transfer to the Vandame John, Gachoka Paul and James Kisingo all show a complex scheme of money laundering,” she ruled.

The judge noted that in the absence of their response yet they had every opportunity to present their version of events, the court was constrained to find the averments that the assets in the matter were proceeds of crime.

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