Court orders preservation of Sh61 million seized from Yatani's nephew

Former Treasury CS Ukur Yatani during a past event. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

The anti-corruption High Court in Nairobi on Monday ordered the preservation of Sh61 million seized from the former Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani’s nephew Ibrae Doko.

Justice Esther Maina ordered that the money, in 100 dollar notes should be preserved for six months.

The Judge issued the orders in an application filed by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC).

In the case, EACC’s lawyer Jackie Kibogy told the court that the money was seized from Doko’s house during a raid on April 22, 2024.

Kibogy told the court that among the items that were seized were 4,600 greenbacks in 100 denominations.

EACC claimed that it suspects that the amount is proceeds of corruption and unexplained wealth.

“There is reasonable suspicion that such huge amounts of cash in foreign currency kept in a house are proceeds of corruption or unexplained wealth or that the Respondent is engaged in money laundering and it is therefore necessary that EACC investigates the source of the money,” said Kibogy.

The lawyer said that EACC was apprehensive that Dokop would demand the unconditional release of the money.

She argued that it would be impossible to pursue Yatani’s nephew if the money was to be released.

EACC sought to search Doko’s residence before the magistrate’s court. At the same time, it also obtained orders to raid Yatani’s house.

In her supporting affidavit, EACC investigator Catherine Ngari told the court that she was among a team probing embezzlement of public funds, procurement irregularities and irregular award of tenders allegations in Marsabit county between 2013 and 2024.

Ngari said preliminary investigations allegedly revealed that during the period Doko allegedly through his company Al Habib Enterprises, irregularly received Sh71 million from Marsabit.

“I have reason to suspect that the money retrieved during the search in the Respondent’s residence is tainted, for reasons that preliminary investigation indicates that the respondent was engaged in corrupt conduct. Further, it is reasonably suspected that the respondent was engaged in money laundering because of the unreasonably large amounts of cash in foreign currency kept out of the financial system,” she said Ngri.

Already, the former CS and his wife Dr Gumato Yatani are before the High Court contesting the raid of their house and EACC’s actions.

Yatano claimed that EACC investigators carted away items such as jewellery, cash and documents that were not recorded in any inventory from his Karen residence and his wife’s office at Kanacho Nomadic Education Foundation.

The former CS said the raids were unsupervised. “The 1st respondent’s officers may have planted fabricated evidence to frame the petitioners,” he said adding that in his Marsabit home, there was no one to witness or hold the officers to account.

He asserted that the raids had nothing to do with a criminal probe but a scheme to cause him embarrassment and humiliation in public.

The former CS claimed that the commission had pre-organized the presence of the media to witness his arrest.

He said he left the house with the officers without being informed that he had been arrested.

“In a clearly pre-scripted act intended to embarrass the 1st petitioner, the 1st respondents’ officers instructed the 1st petitioner to alight from the vehicle in which he was transported and walk towards the main building of the entrance in the full glare of cameras, which was about 100m away,” said Yatani.

The former CS and his wife told the court that there was no reason for EACC to believe that they would not cooperate with its investigators.

He said that he was ordered to go to EACC on May 2, 2024.

“The petitioners further contend that the investigations have been mounted with the predominant purpose of achieving an illegal and ulterior motive; oppressing, harassing and persecuting the petitioners; and the petitioners are apprehensive that unless checked and reined in, the respondents will continue to act with impunity and to the detriment of the petitioners and the general administration of justice,” said Yatani in his supporting affidavit.

The CS asked the court to quash the search warrants and order the officers to return the items carted away including cash and jewellery. He also sought for damages.

Yatani was Marsabit Governor before being appointed Labour Cabinet Secretary in 2019 and moved to Treasury in 2020 until 2022, under former President Uhuru Kenyatta's regime.

He was the Marsabit governor from 2013 to 2017. He also served as the Permanent Representative of Kenya to the United Nations in Vienna from 2009 to 2012; and Member of Parliament for North Horr constituency in 2006.