former KERRA employee forfeits mult-million property to state over money laundering link

A former government official has been forced to forfeit properties worth Sh 265 million after a judge ruled that they were proceeds of crime.

Margaret Wanja Muthui, a former Kenya Rural Roads Authority (KeRRA) procurement manager was forced to forfeit 11 apartments in Kilelesha and other units in Ruaka after High Court judge Esther Maina ruled that they are proceeds of crime.

The properties had been registered in the names of Esther Wagio Njunge and her company Light House Trading Company Ltd, Mercy Nyambura and Cynthia Nyambura and the court found that they were conduits used to conceal the source of the funds.

Also forfeited to the state is Sh74.7 million held in fixed deposit in the name of Njunge, Sh13.9 million held in fixed deposit in the name of Muthui and Sh 6.7 million in the name of the Light House Trading Company Ltd, all at Cooperative Bank.

“It is my finding therefore, that Asset Recovery Agency (ARA) has proved its case on a balance of probabilities and I find that the assets preserved by this court, are proceeds of crime liable to be forfeited to the State and I do so order,” declared Judge Maina.

Court further ordered that the funds, assets, rental income, benefit, profit accruing from the assets be forfeited to the government and transferred to the Asset Recovery Agency.

Justice Maina said that it was suspicious that Muthui who alleges to have had her own trading companies would have prefer to transact using Light House Trading Company Ltd a shell company.

Evidence presented to court showed that Muthui last been used the company for a tender of Sh40,000 to purchase landed property on her behalf.

“This is conduct usually employed by money launderers to disguise the source of funds and properties,” said the Judge.

In her decision, the judges found that Muthui corruptly enriched herself as she was not able to explain the source of the funds she used to acquire the properties.

Judge observed that Muthui declared income from employment but not from any other source but she did not disclose income from other sources for that period is in my view, evidence that she was not engaged in any other business and that she had no other source of income other than her salaries and emoluments.

In 2021 the court froze the properties and funds, pending the determination of a case filed by Assets Recovery Agency (ARA).

“An order of preservation be and is hereby granted prohibiting the Respondents or their employees, agents, servants or any other persons acting on their behalf from selling, transferring, charging or dealing in any manner with the following apartments erected on L.R NO. 209/21878(Origina1 No. 209/7752), Kileleshwa, Nairobi (Signature Apartments), ” ordered Judge Wakiaga.

This is after moved to court seeking to forfeit the properties and funds which were believed to be proceeds of crime.

ARA said investigations revealed that the three accounts had received suspicious funds through a scheme of money laundering which funds are believed to be illicit or proceeds of crime.

It is alleged that Muthui used the illicit money to buy eleven apartments in cash from Ceytun East Africa Limited which were then registered in the names of Light House Trading Company Ltd, Mercy Nyambura and Cynthia Nyambura.

Investigations established that paid a total of Sh264, 500.000 million in cash for the eleven apartments which were registered under the names Light House Trading Company Ltd, Mercy and Cynthia in a scheme of concealing ownership.

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