Questions over Sh1.5 billion paid out to land owner

Controversy over a prime piece of land in the city has sucked in influential figures and propelled the claimants to national limelight.

Questions are being raised why two investigating agencies and parliamentary committees are probing a transaction between the National Land Commission (NLC) and a city tycoon who has received Sh1.5 billion from the government for compensation of his land.

The Financial Reporting Centre (FRC) and the Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission (EACC) have initiated investigations into the recent payment of Sh 1.5 billion to businessman Francis Mburu through his companies Afrison Imports and Export Limited and Huelands Limited.

While FRC completed its investigations and unfroze the accounts, EACC is still conducting investigations. 

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Warrant to investigate

It has emerged that four days after Mr Mburu received compensation for 13 acres of land occupied by Ruaraka Secondary school and Drive Inn primary schools, his accounts were frozen.

FRC obtained a court order freezing 21 accounts into which the money was transferred.

Sunday Standard has established that the frozen accounts belonged to Mburu, his lawyers, debtors and business partners.

Court documents in our possession show the detective had sought bank statements for ten accounts held at Barclays Bank of Kenya, one account at NIC Bank and another at Co-operative Bank, eleven accounts at Equity Bank, two accounts at Diamond Trust Bank, two accounts at Kenya Commercial Bank, one account at ABC Bank, one at I&M Bank and another at Consolidated Bank.

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This was after Chief Inspector Mike Muia sought a court order to freeze the 21 accounts into which the money had been transferred.

“Now I therefore authorise No. 231754 CI Mike Muia, an investigator with the Directorate of Criminal Investigations by this warrant to investigate the said accounts and to require the production for his scrutiny and take certified copies of account opening documents, cheques transacted in the accounts, deposit, withdrawal slips, outward and inward transfer documents transacted from January 30 and February 5,” the order by the Chief Magistrate Milimani Law courts dated February 5th says.

The investigator had also demanded for funds preservation order until investigations are complete or the case is determined.

Three days later, the Chief Magistrate’s court in response to miscellaneous Criminal Application No. 389 of 2018 order for the unfreezing of the said accounts after completion of the DCI investigations wrote a letter addressed to the Barclays Bank, NIC Bank, Cooperative Bank, Equity Bank, DTB, KCB, ABC I&M Bank and Consolidated Bank managers.

“It has been proved to me under oath that the investigations were fully conducted and the investigating officer finds that there is no valid reason to continue freezing the accounts. It is now here ordered that the following account to be unfrozen by the above mentioned bank managers,” the Chief Magistrate’s orders dated February 8th read in part.

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The Sh1.5 billion paid to the businessman is the latest of four payments amounting to over Sh5 billion made to Mburu in compensation for about 53 acres acquired by the government.

A total of 21 accounts in Barclays Bank, NIC Bank, Cooperative Bank, Equity Bank, Diamond Trust Bank, Kenya Commercial Bank, ABC Bank, I&M Bank and Consolidated Bank into which millions of shillings from the Whispering Palms Estate Ltd accounts were transferred were frozen in a two-day probe.

However, the accounts that included one belonging to a church into which Mburu paid tithe were unfrozen after the investigation.

Details have emerged of the two pronged investigation into NLC’s Sh 1.5 billion compensation for 13 acres of land on which two schools sit.

Investigations by EACC came a month after the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) completed its probe into the payment with more money scheduled to be paid to the businessman at a later date.

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Afrison Export & Imports Limited and Huelands Ltd had instructed NLC to deposit the Sh1.5 billion compensation into sister company Whispering Palms Estate Ltd account.

In previous court documents, Mburu, through his Afrison Export & Imports Limited and Huelands Limited have maintained the government had illegally occupied part of the 97 acres of its lands since 1980 and had proposed to buy the whole land but initially only purchased seven and half acres where the General Service Unit headquarters stands until 2009 when GSU fenced off 30 acres and the Ruaraka Chief’s camp occupied four acres. The two schools have been occupying the land for the last 25 years.

The defunct Nairobi City Council then issued allotment letters to the remaining part already settled on.

Documents available show that negotiations between the Ministry of Education and Afrison Export & Import Limited for compensation of the land began in February 2017 and surveyors from the ministry and the National Land Commission conducted vacation and negotiated for the price before the payment was made. The title deed to the land, amounting to a total of 97 acres, is freehold, and no complaints have ever been raised on its ownership.

land disputeland grabbingEACC