Hunt for proxies in dams rip-off kicks off asset seizures
By Kamore Maina | July 28th 2019
Barely days after charges were slapped on suspects in the Kimwarer and Arror dams scam, the state is swooping in on their assets for possible seizure.
Prime parcels of land and properties in Karen, Runda and Gigiri are among assets that the government has mapped out for recovery if it succeeds in nailing the suspects.
Apart from the properties located in the leafy suburbs, government agencies are also eyeing commercial buildings located in Machakos County’s Mlolongo area and Narok, fat bank accounts and high end vehicles.
The properties are suspected to have been bought using proceeds from the dams. And in what now rings a bell to majority of Kenyans, police have identified a 35-year-old Nairobi businessman who is believed to be a proxy of some top government officials implicated in the scandal.
The shadowy businessman, only identified as Ken, hails from Murang’a County and is said to have been used to buy and register properties for some of the suspects.
DCI investigators have since visited the rural home of the man said to be a well-connected businessman but were shocked to learn that the only existing business linked to him was a run-down posho mill.
This sharply contrasts the description given to the police by close associates of the man now on the hunt for questioning after his asset portfolio failed to match his history, description and home reality.
“We want the man arrested so that he can tell us how he acquired the properties,” said an investigator at the DCI headquarters yesterday.
It is said most of the assets, registered under company names and also individual names, had been acquired in the last 12 months.
It is during the same time that the dam scandal came to light and investigations opened.
Police suspect Ken was either a beneficiary of the dam’s sudden rain of cash or was simply a proxy for some big shots in government rained on by the same ‘fortune.’
Investigators said Ken is described by close associates as a well wired businessman in the city with powerful connections in government.
Officers attached to Flying Squad Unit on Saturday night conducted a major operation in the city targeting the vehicles suspected to have been purchased with dam cash.
None of the vehicles that the police were seeking had been seized by last evening.
In the National Youth Service (NYS) scam, a hairdresser is said to have been used as a buffer between the suspects and state resources. Ken’s case also mirrors the case of the Ngirita family of Naivasha, whose social background failed to match the Sh361 million they are said to have received from NYS.
Last week, top officials at the National Treasury, including CS Henry Rotich and his Principal Secretary Kamau Thugge, were arrested and charged over the dam scandal.
The two, together with eight other suspects, denied charges related to the construction of the two dams. The DPP has recommended the prosecution of 28 individuals and companies.
They faced 10 counts that include abuse of office, engaging in unplanned projects, receiving bribes among other economic crimes. They denied the charges and were released on bond.
On March 9, DPP Noordin Haji said investigators were targeting assets and property that may have been acquired using proceeds from the dam cash. Haji said an investigations team comprising of officers from his office and that of the DCI had been tasked to probe the beneficiaries of the money.
“We must get hold of more than Sh21 billion that has already been paid out, trace where and whom every shilling has been paid to so as to trace and establish any intended corrupt payments,” he said in a statement.
Multiple calls to DCI chief George Kinoti went un-answered. Asset Recovery Agency director Muthoni Kimani could also not be reached for comment yesterday as she did not answer calls. She also did not respond to questions sent by short text message.
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