A Nairobi court has frozen property worth millions associated with a senior employee at the Kenya Rural Roads Authority (KERRA) that is suspected to be proceeds of crime.
Asset Recovery Agency (ARA) had asked the court to freeze the assets and bank accounts belonging to Margaret Wanja Muthui who is the Deputy Director of Supply Chain Management at KERRA.
Others who are affected by the order are her alleged conduits who she worked alongside to launder money.
The agency says Muthui used Esther Wagio Njunge, Lighthouse Trading Company, Grace Ndiritu, Mercy Nyambura and Cynthia Nyambura who are her accomplices.
On Monday, Justice James Wakiaga issued orders freezing a total of Sh93.4 million in three accounts – one belongs to Njunge and the other two are for Muthui and Lighthouse Trading Company.
Judge Wakiaga also prohibited them from selling, transferring, charging or dealing in any manner with 11 apartments located in Kileleshwa.
“An order of preservation is hereby granted barring Light House Trading Company from selling, transferring or dealing in any manner with 2 properties in Ruaka, a house at Collingham Gardens in Nairobi and the land in Riruta,” the court ordered.
The court further prohibited them from collecting any rental income from the property in question instead the rent should be deposited in the Asset Recovery Agency account pending hearing and determination of the intended forfeiture case.
The properties whose tenants will be sending rent to ARA include 11 apartments in Kileleshwa and 24 apartments at Taraji Residence apartments in Ruaka.
The rent in the Kileleshwa apartments ranges from Sh116,000 up to Sh200,000 that is deposited to Light House Trading Company by the tenants.
Justice Wakiaga has also ordered the Chief Land Registrar to register caveats against each of the apartments and properties stated in the case.
They have also been directed to surrender to ARA the original land titles documents, leases or registration documents for all the contested properties within the next seven days.
The agency told the court that investigations had revealed that the three accounts had received suspicious funds through a scheme of money laundering which is believed to be proceeds of crime.
Muthui is alleged to have used the illicit funds to purchase 11 apartments in Kileleshwa using cash money from Ceytun East Africa which was registered in the names of Lighthouse Trading company, Mercy and Cynthia.
Investigations established that she paid Sh264,500,000 in cash for the eleven apartments and were registered in her accomplice’s names in a scheme to conceal ownership.
Muthui is alleged to have bought the properties within a period of three months during the demonetization period in 2019 so as to launder the illegitimately obtained cash.
Investigations have revealed that the 4 women and the company were used as a conduit of money laundering by Muthui to hide and conceal the source of funds and beneficial ownership of the properties.
The court was told that on April 13 2015, Muthui transferred through RTGS suspicious funds Sh39 Million from her account in Cooperative Bank to Esther’s account in Equity Bank.
On July 26, 2017, Sh49,857,670 was placed in a fixed deposit account and accumulated interest to Sh68,600,000 which was also deposited in a fixed deposit account on April 16 this year for a period of 12 months.
The maturity date of the Sh68.6 Million is April 16, 2022, whose expected interest at maturity is Sh6,174,000 and the total maturity amount will be Sh74,774,000.
She paid for each of the apartments in cash accompanied by her lawyer but did not register any of them in her name
Asset Recovery says they received information that Muthui and her accomplices had acquired funds and assets through a scheme of money laundering which asses are reasonably believed to be proceeds of crime.