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Kenya targets Okemo, Gichuru secret assets in Jersey

By | February 18th 2012

By Everlyn Kwamboka

Secret assets linked to former Cabinet minister Chris Okemo and former Kenya Power and Lighting Company boss Samuel Gichuru in the Island of Jersey could soon be repatriated following renewed Government efforts.

Friday, The Standard On Saturday reliably learnt that Attorney-General Githu Muigai had held discussions with the Jersey authorities on fast-tracking the repatriation of assets stashed in that country.

Nambale MP Okemo and Gichuru are wanted by the Jersey authorities to face Sh900 million money-laundering charges.

The AG held a meeting with the Island of Jersey’s Solicitor-General, Howard Sharp, and is now preparing to file a formal request for legal assistance to that country, The Standard On Saturday has learnt.

The meeting between the AG and Sharp was held at the Kenyan High Commission in London during Githu’s official visit to the UK, our sources said.

"I was pleased with the outcome of the vital and cordial discussion we held...and in particular the fast-tracking and finalisation of the repatriation of assets relating to Messrs Gichuru and Okemo," the Attorney-General said in his letter to Sharp dated February 17, 2012, and which was exclusively obtained by The Standard On Saturday.

Gichuru and Okemo – who are out on Sh1 million cash bail – are alleged to have received bribes from international companies between 1999 and 2002. The latest development came as the Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko awaits a High Court hearing on his appeal against a magistrate’s decision that barred lawyer Patrick Kiage from representing the Government.

Made submissions

Kiage had given his submissions opposing Okemo and Gichuru’s bid to have the extradition proceedings dismissed, when the magistrate, Ms Grace Macharia, ruled that the lawyer – who is in private practice – had not been properly appointed as a special prosecutor to handle the matter.

This followed lawyer Fred Ngatia’s – for Okemo and Gichuru – application to the court that their case could only be handled by a person with the legal status to appear before court.

During the court proceedings last year, two top officials from the Island of Jersey – Barrister Anwar Nashashibi and Detective Constable Mark Adrian Grieve – were in attendance.

Outside the court precincts, the two were met by a group of youth hurling racist words at them, a move that prompted the magistrate to promise to alert security officers at the Milimani Law Courts. Magistrate Macharia also asked the DPP to report the matter to police.

The two officials were in the country to assist the DPP’s office to argue out the extradition application. It was Grieve who, on April 8, 2010, gave information on oath against the suspects in an affidavit before a court in the Island of Jersey.

He claimed that the suspects had concealed and transferred proceeds of a criminal conduct, after which the court issued warrants of arrest against the two prominent Kenyans.

Nashashibi, a University of Manchester graduate, practices in all areas of serious crime with emphasis on fraud, money laundering and corruption.

In defending the extradition, the DPP is to rely on 13 bundles of documents received from the Island of Jersey.

In the documents, there are claims that when Okemo opened a bank account in Jersey several years ago, he presented himself as a self-employed economist. Gichuru presented himself only as "a lawyer by profession."

It is this account that Jersey investigators claim was used to pass and conceal proceeds of crime.

An affidavit sworn by Detective Lee Turner claimed that Okemo and Gichuru accepted bribes from foreign firms contracted by KPLC.

The companies were allegedly made to pay money to the account of Windward Trading Ltd, which belonged to Gichuru, or that he benefited from it and controlled it using agents.

Turner claimed that the bribes in Windward, incorporated in Jersey in 1986, were sent to Okemo and Gichuru’s accounts on instructions of Gichuru’s agents.

Turner alleges that through these schemes of ‘layering’ were net payments of £1.3million.

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