Tuesday, June 25

Anne Amadi’s Link To Alleged Gold Fraud A Risk To Judiciary Reputation, CJ Koome Must Act Fast

Chief Registrar of Judiciary Anne Amadi‘s link to the Sh130 million gold scam has in the recent times out the reputation of the Kenyan judiciary in bad light given that criminal networks in the fake gold scam has been conning hundreds of millions from foreigners putting Kenya in a row with other countries.

Amadi has distanced herself from the Sh100 million fake gold scam, saying it was her son who has been managing the law firm linked to the gold scam.

In a fresh suit seeking to set aside orders that froze her accounts, Amadi claims that she left private practice on January 13, 2014 when she was appointed as the Chief Registrar of the Judiciary.

Initially, Justice David Majanja was handling the case and  issued orders freezing her accounts, that of her son and two others on the application by Bruton Gold Trading LLC, a company in Dubai.

Justice Manyanja later recused himself from the case saying he could not continue hearing the case since he sits in the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) where Amadi is the secretary to the commission.

While standing her ground maintaining that she’s innocent, Amadi’s position is beyond her personal character, she’s carrying the burden of judiciary’s reputation. Kenyans remember when the DCJ Nancy Barasa pinched a guard’s nose, she was forced to resign. What Amadi is being accused of is way bigger than that.

While weighing in on the case, Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua suggested that the judiciary official should step aside pending the hearing and determination of the matter.

 

The case

Ms Amadi, alongside her son Brian Ochieng, two other Kenyans and a Liberian citizen have been sued by Bruton Gold Trading LLC, a gold trading firm registered in Dubai, which claims to have lost $742,206 between September 22 and October 21, 2021.

According to an affidavit by the trader, Mr Demetrios Bradshaw, the money was meant for the purchase of 1,500 kilogrammes of gold bars, but the precious metal was never delivered to the buyer in Dubai.

The other defendants in the case are Andrew Njenga Kiarie, Kikanae Topoti, Daniel Ndegwa Kangara alias Daniel Muriithi and Edward Taylor alias Mboronda Seyenkulo Sakor, a Liberian passport holder.

Mr Ochieng (Amadi’s son), Mr Kiarie and Mr Topoti are advocates in the law firm, Amadi and Associates, while Mr Kangara was representing a company called Universal Gold Logistics Limited (UGL) and Mr Sakor was said to have been the vendor of the gold.

In his affidavit, Mr Bradshaw says that in September 2021, he entered into a transaction with Mr Taylor and paid the cash to UGL through Amadi and Associates, who were its legal representatives. Mr Kangara then sent him documents indicating that the gold had been exported and would shortly arrive in Dubai. He was given a flight and consignment number.

However, when he checked with the airline, he was told no such consignment had been sent aboard the flight. When he checked with Kangara and Sakor, they informed him that the gold had been taken off the plane as there were some payments which had not been made. He then made the payments and they confirmed to him that some 200 kilogrammes of gold would be exported on the October 22, 2021.

However, Mr Bradshaw says, no gold was ever exported.

Mr Sakor then informed him that a court order prohibiting the transfer of the gold to him had been issued.

Mr Bradshaw later learnt that the suit had in fact been filed by one of the advocates from the same firm, but was subsequently withdrawn and that the order that had been sent to him was different from the actual order that had been issued by court.

He then filed a complaint with the police, who investigated the matter. The investigations showed that the money deposited was withdrawn by Mr Ochieng and one of his partners in the law firm, Mr Kiarie.

In his suit, Mr Bradshaw says Ms Amadi and the three advocates, on behalf of the firm and in their personal capacity, together with Mr Kangara and Mr Taylor illegally obtained the money from him and wants them compelled to refund the cash, with interest and cost of the suit.

He says the account into which the money was paid was opened by Ms Amadi. In support, he attaches a letter Ms Amadi wrote to the bank, requesting the opening of a US dollar and Kenya shilling accounts. In the letter to the bank, dated June 9, 2020, and referenced, “Request to open a client account”, Ms Amadi states: Refer to the above referenced matter, hereby requesting the opening of an advocate’s client account at your renowned banking institution. I have since left private practice and therefore exempted from having a practicing certificate, however, I have appointed Brian O. Amadi (Id. No. ….) and Andrew Njenga Kiarie (ID No…) as signatories to the said account….. We would like to open both a Kenyan shilling and a US dollar account. The mandate of the account shall be both of the signatories of the account to sign.

Also in the court documents is a letter from the Law Society of Kenya, dated March 7, 2022, which states: “We confirm that, according to our records, Kimani James Kinyanjui, Kiarie Andrew Njenga, Kinoti Dennis Murithi and Amadi Brian Ochieng advocates have declared to be associates in the firm of Amadi and Associates Advocates.”

There’s also a registration certificate from the Business Registration Services, dated August 23, 2022 which states that a law firm by the name, Amadi and Associates was registered on November 9, 2012, and its proprietor was Anne Atieno Amadi.

Mr Bradshaw states that investigations into the case had revealed that the funds, which were received through the law firm were withdrawn in cash by Mr Ochieng and Mr Ndegwa.

“Simply put the defendants herein orchestrated a fraudulent scheme to obtain money from the plaintiff,” his lawyer Murage Juma and Company said.

After getting wind that the matter was being investigated, Mr Ochieng allegedly called for a meeting and committed to refund the money plus losses incurred by the firm, Mr Bradshaw says. The law firm wrote a letter to the trader’s advocates on May 10, last year and forwarded two cheques totaling to $9,000 as a commitment.

Mr Bradshaw’s advocates accepted the cheques on account that the entire amount would be refunded and requested a proposal on the settlement of the balance.

In the plaint, Mr Bradshaw claims that Ms Amadi in telephone conversations, made proposals to clear the amount within six months, but this was declined because there was no security.

Not yet

Since her accounts were frozen, the embattled judiciary registrar has been making unsuccessful requests to have her accounts unfrozen. This has also been seen quarters as grounds for her to step aside as she could interfere with proceedings by piling pressure on her juniors.

 

The circus

In the latest development, High court has declined to set aside an order freezing bank accounts of the Chief Registrar. She had rushed to Court under a certificate of urgency seeking to lift the freeze order issued by Justice David Majanja on May 18.

Justice Majanja who sits alongside Amadi at Judicial Service Commission (JSC) recused himself from handling the matter and transferred the case to presiding judge of commercial court Alfred Mabeya.

Amadi told the court freezing of her personal bank accounts was prejudicial to her and she was unable to fend for her family.

Justice Mabeya directed the Dubai based company- Bruton Gold Trading LLC to respond to Amadi’s application ahead of the hearing on May 29.

Corruption in judiciary

The latest saga which is also rumored to have roped in two other members of JSC is only adding to the many graft scandals that has plagued the judiciary.

Justice Said Juma Chitembwe was recently sacked over gross misconduct but this is a tip of the iceberg according to judiciary insiders.

 

In the wake of Amadi’s tribulation, it is the silence of Chief Justice Martha Koome that has also alarmed others. While she’s naturally a laid back person, she should remind her counterpart to put the institution first ahead of her personal interests. Nobody is saying she’s guilty or not but as she’s pursuing the justice, it would only be prudent to step aside, let the wheels run until determination. But until then, the headlines won’t stop flashing.

As the president of the judiciary, Koome should stamp the authority.

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