Judgement on Rigathi Gachagua's Sh202m case deferred

Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua. [Christopher Kipsang, Standard]

A decision on whether to compel Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua to forfeit Sh202 million has been put on hold after his business partner brought new evidence to prove their money is legally acquired.

Lady Justice Esther Maina was scheduled to issue a judgment on the application by the Asset Recovery Agency (ARA) to have the MP forfeit the amount.

But Anne Kimemia, trading as Jenne Enterprises Ltd, said they have filed another application to be allowed to provide more evidence.

Their lawyer, Karuku Wachira, said they came across the documents recently and it will be in the interest of justice that they be allowed to demonstrate that the money in question was not proceeds of corruption.

But ARA lawyer Mohamed Adow protested the move to postpone the judgment, arguing that all the parties had enough time to submit their evidence.

“All the parties had filed extensive documents and argued their case. We had finished everything and were just waiting for the judgment, this latest turn of events is only meant to derail the decision,” said Mr Adow.

Justice Maina noted that her judgment was ready but was scuttled by the application, and told the parties to file their submissions to the fresh application within the next 14 days.

Mr Gachagua, who is Deputy President William Ruto’s running mate for the August 9 presidential election, and his associates are being pursued by ARA over allegations that they acquired public funds through fraudulent means.

According to ARA, Mr Gachagua’s three personal accounts conducted a series of huge suspicious debit transactions amounting to Sh7.3 billion and a total credit of Sh12.5 billion between 2013 and 2020, which they believe are proceeds of crime.

Out of the huge bank transactions, the agency claimed the MP and his business associate could not explain how they acquired a total of Sh202 million which should be forfeited to the state.

Two accounts registered in  Mr Gachagua’s name at Rafiki Microfinance Bank have Sh165 million and Sh35 million, a third account has Sh773,228 while a fourth account under the name of Jenne Enterprises has Sh1.1 million.

ARA explained that the MP, while trading under different companies, received millions of shillings from different State agencies and hurriedly transferred them to other entities and personal bank accounts to conceal the sources.

Among State agencies, ARA suspects the MP illegally traded with are the Ministry of Lands, State Department for Special Planning, Ministry of Health, Bungoma and Nyeri County Governments, Mathira Constituency Development Fund and the National Irrigation Board.

But Mr Gachagua in his defence argued that he acquired his money through clean business deals and that he was being prosecuted for political reasons. Justice Maina rescheduled the judgment to July 28.