Gachagua charged with Sh7.5b fraud, released on Sh25m bond

Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua at Milimani anti-corruption court on Thursday, July 26, 2021, when he was charged with conspiracy to commit an offence of corruption, fraudulent acquisition of property and money laundering.[Collins Kweyu,Standard]

Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua appeared before a Nairobi court to face corruption charges yesterday.

What started as a dawn raid at his Nyeri home on Friday and a weekend in police custody culminated in court, with the MP pleading not guilty to six counts of economic crimes.

Anti-corruption court Chief Magistrate Lawrence Mugambi ordered Gachagua to deposit a cash bail of Sh12 million or a Sh25 million bond with surety of a similar amount to secure his release.

“The amounts he is alleged to have acquired fraudulently are astronomical and if found guilty, the fine will be heavy,” ruled Mugambi.

The judge noted that corruption allegations impact the entire society since it is a threat to the economy, and releasing the MP on lenient terms would erode public confidence in the administration of justice.

In count one, Gachagua was charged with conspiracy to commit an offence of corruption. It was alleged that he defrauded the County Government of Nyeri Sh27.4 million between May 2015 and December 2016.

The second charge stated that on December 29, 2014, Gachagua fraudulently acquired Sh6 million from Nyeri Provincial General Hospital for the supply of dialysis machines.

He faced two other counts of money laundering. The prosecution alleged that the MP received Sh112 million from Bungoma and Kwale counties and engaged in transactions to conceal the money trail.

The crux of the charges was in count five where the MP was accused of fraudulent acquisition of Sh7.3 billion.

“Between 2013 and 2020, you fraudulently received Sh7,330,011,265 through three bank accounts registered under the name of Rigathi Gachagua domiciled at Rafiki Micro-Finance Bank, while knowing that the money formed part of proceeds of crimes,” read the charge sheet.

As the charges were read to him, the MP who sat alone in the dock had the support of 10 lawyers led by Kioko Kilukumi and a host of politicians allied to Deputy President William Ruto, led by United Democratic Alliance Chairman Johnstone Muthama.

Kilukumi told the magistrate there was mischief in the manner the MP was arrested and forced to spend the weekend in custody, even though he had earlier recorded a statement.

The charges were a culmination of two years of investigations in which the Asset Recover Agency had filed a suit to compel the MP to forfeit Sh202 million to the State for being proceeds of crime and money laundering.

ARA, in its application, claims that Gachagua’s three personal accounts conducted huge suspicious debit transactions amounting to Sh7.3 billion and a credit of Sh12.5 billion between 2013 and 2020.

His co-accused William Mwangi, Anne Nduta, Julianne Jahenda, Samuel Murimi, Grace Wambui, Lawrence Kimaru, Irene Wambui and David Nguru failed to appear in court.

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