Court allows agency to recover Sh39 million looted from NYS in an undefended case

Former NYS Finance Director Samuel Wachenje (left) speaks at Parliament Buildings where he was grilled for several hours by Parliamentary Accounts Committee (PAC) on the scandal during his tenure at the NYS. [Moses Omusula, Standard]

Eight people linked to the Sh791 million National Youth Service (NYS) scandal have been ordered to forfeit luxury vehicles, land, and a maisonette to the government.

Anti-Corruption Court Judge Mumbi Ngugi yesterday ordered former NYS Finance Director Samuel Wachenje alias Samuel Mwadime, his wife Susan Mdanyi, John Vandame, Anthony Kihara, and Charity Gethi to forfeit the assets worth Sh39 million after they failed to defend a case where Asset Recovery Agency (ARA) went after their wealth.

Gethi is the mother to Ben Gethi, the main suspect in the scandal.

The judge also issued similar orders against John Ndung’u, Paul Gachoka, and James Kisingo.

The assets include three Toyota Prados, a plot in Juja East and a maisonette in Kasarani.

The asset recovery agency had filed the case in 2016. For four years, the court invited the eight to give their side of the story, but they never appeared.

Justice Ngugi allowed ARA to recover the assets from the eight after finding that they were acquired using stolen NYS money.

“From the facts presented by the applicant, which has not been controverted by the respondents, the assets in this matter were purchases using funds stolen from NYS. The assets were then registered in the names of the respondents and their associates,” Ngugi ruled.

In the case, the judge heard that on June 5, 2015, Anne Waiguru, who was then Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Devolution and Planning wrote to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) complaining that Sh800 million from NYS had been siphoned.

The DCI found that at least Sh791 million had been stolen.

According to court records, three companies – Form Home Builders, Roof and All Trading, and Reinforced Concrete Trading received Sh281 million, Sh252 million and Sh320 million from NYS. The companies were linked to Josephine Kabura suspected to have been at the heart of the scam.

The court heard that Kabura sent Kago some Sh381 million. This was done in collusion with Kago, Ben Gethi and some staff of Family Bank, Kenya Tea Development Authority (KTDA) Plaza branch.

The maisonette situated at Kasarani, the court heard, belonged to Mwadime and was bought for Sh21,856,000. He drew his wife Mkiwa into the matter after registering the house under her name. Mwadime had been arraigned in the magistrate’s court alongside Gethi for the loss of NYS monies.

To Mwandime, the court heard that Kabura deposited Sh40 million at an account at Family Bank, Kagwe Branch. Mwandime then approached one Tirus Kamau and his wife, Esther Nthenya, and bought off their house at Sh21 million.

“Criminal investigations revealed the funds embezzled from NYS were fraudulently transferred to various bank accounts and subsequently used to purchase immovable and movable properties by and for the respondents to assist the suspects in concealing and laundering the stolen funds,” ARA told the court.

Mwadime is also said to have bought a plot in Juja worth about Sh4 million. He then bought a car at Sh3.3 million and that later changed ownership to Mr Kisingo.

The court heard that the first car, a Toyota Prado registration KCE 852T worth Sh5.25 million, was bought by Kihara but under the name of Gethi’s point man, Kago. It later found its way to Paul Gachoka.

The second car, also a Prado worth Sh5,070,000 was bought by Kihara under the name of Kago, but later transferred to Vandame.

It emerged that Gachoka and Vandame never paid anything for the cars under their names.

“This was meant to conceal and hide the motor vehicles and make their seizure and forfeiture to State harder,” ARA argued.