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ELECTION 2022

EACC wants Wa Iria to surrender properties over graft allegations

NATIONAL
By Kamau Muthoni | Jan 25th 2022 | 3 min read

Murang'a Governor Mwangi Wa Iria before the Senate’s CPAIC at KICC, Nairobi. November 2021. [David Njaaga, Standard]

The anti-graft agency wants Murang’a Governor Mwangi wa Iria to forfeit land in Nyeri and a property in Umoja Innercore, Nairobi, claiming the assets were bought from proceeds of corruption.

Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) claims its investigations show that the presidential hopeful’s Mweiga Thungare land and Nairobi block 83/14/309 were acquired using proceeds of crime.

The commission traced the money to a media company - Top Image Media Consultants Limited - that it argues was allegedly irregularly awarded two contracts by Murang’a County in the 2013-2014 and 2016-2017 financial years.

According to EACC, Mr Wa Iria had all through held an interest in the contracts awarded to Top Image. It claims investigations revealed that the governor received Sh13.7 million through cheques, bank and mobile transfers.

According to court documents filed before an anti-corruption court in Milimani, Wa Iria’s personal assistant Peter Karanja allegedly received money from Top Media for the governor and for own benefit.

According to EACC, Murang’a county government irregularly awarded Top Image tenders amounting to Sh542 million.

The commission asked the court to freeze the properties.

Justice James Wakiaga barred the governor from disposing of the properties.

In its initial filings, EACC claimed that the firm belongs to the county chief’s associates and they would wire the money to the governor whenever the county wired the money to Top Media accounts.

It was alleged that the county first wired Sh302 million to Top Media’s account in Family Bank while a second tranche of Sh201 million was sent to the firm’s accounts at Jamii Bora. Then, some Sh39 million was sent to Sidian Bank in an account also said to be run by the firm.

The anti-graft body believes that Top Media would then wire the money to the governor which he then used to buy the two properties.

The court heard that a trace on the money movement revealed that the governor’s wife, Jane Waigwe Kimani, bought the property in Umoja. She is said to have instructed a law firm, Munene Wambugu and Kiplagat Advocates, to act on her behalf while buying the property from Charles Gaithuma Munga.

To ascertain that Waigwe was Wa Iria’s spouse, EACC went after her National Health Insurance Funds records and which allegedly contained an affidavit of marriage between her and the governor.

EACC claimed that she bought the property through Valley View Limited, a company where she is a director alongside Wa Iria’s brother-in-law Solomon Mutura Kimani.

The Nairobi property is said to have been bought at Sh7.5 million.

The court heard that the money was paid directly to Waigwe’s lawyers from Top Media who paid the seller. EACC claims that Top Media’s employee Kenneth Ngige confirmed that he had been sent to deposit the money on September 2, 2014.

On the Mweiga (Nyeri) land, it was alleged that the governor was introduced to the sellers of the property Charles Kimotho and Lucy Nyambura by a middleman. He allegedly expressed interest in buying 40 acres at Sh670,000 per acre. The entire land cost Sh26 million.

According to EACC, Value View purchased the first five acres, then in 2015 it entered into another agreement for 35 acres, which was to be paid for in instilments.

The firm first paid Sh670,000 then agreed to pay a further Sh2 million by January 31, 2015, and a balance of Sh20 million in six monthly instilments. EACC claimed that at one point, Value View defaulted on payment and upon discussions, the sellers took back their 27 acres.

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