A magistrate has allowed the police to investigate bank accounts belonging to former Agriculture Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri over money laundering allegations.
The court order allows the Assets Recovery Agency to investigate Mr Kiunjuri’s accounts at Equity Bank and directed the lender to provide the account opening documents, statements of accounts, cheque deposits, withdrawal slips and electronic cash transfers.
The move comes six months after Mr Kiunjuri was sacked from the Cabinet after falling out with President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Mr Kiunjuri is an ally of Deputy President William Ruto and last week launched a new political party — The Service Party — with an eye on the 2022 elections.
Only last week, a High Court judge froze four bank accounts belonging to Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua, who is alleged to have received about Sh5.8 billion in a period of seven years. The money is believed to be proceeds of crime. It is alleged that the money was received from various State agencies through collusion. His office has since been sealed off as part of the investigations.
Some of the suspicious payments made to Mr Gachagua came from the National Irrigation Board, which was under the Ministry of Agriculture during the Mr Kiunjuri’s tenure. The board was recently moved to the Water Ministry.
ARA is seeking to investigate whether funds from the irrigation board were wired to Mr Kiunjuri’s bank accounts through Mr Gachagua or his associates.
“That the honourable court be pleased to issue orders to investigate and inspect the books of accounts related to the following bank accounts domiciled at Equity Bank…(number withheld) in the name of Mwangi Kiunjuri and any other account,” ARA said in a petition to the court.
The magistrate granted the orders and directed Equity Bank to provide electronic evidence of the transactions in the accounts from January 1, 2014 to date.
The agency was also allowed to investigate other bank accounts in the names of Petlico Agencies Company Ltd, Karandi Farm Ltd, Skytop Agencies, Riang International Group, Encartar Diagnostic Ltd and Beth Wacheri Wacunga.
Already, the High Court has frozen more than Sh200 million belonging to Mr Gachagua, pending a petition by a State agency for the money to be forfeited to the government.
Mr Gichagua’s accounts at Rafiki Micro Finance Bank will remain frozen for 90 days.
Documents filed in court showed that within seven years, the MP received Sh5.8 billion, which included funds from companies or business entities providing services to ministries, State agencies and county governments.
The funds emanated from the Ministry of Lands (Kenya Informal Settlements Programme), State Department for Special Planning, Ministry of Health, Bungoma County government, Mathira Constituency Development Fund, Nyeri County government and the National Irrigation Board.
The High Court has stopped the MP and Jenne Enterprises from dealing with or transferring the funds.
“There are reasonable grounds to believe that the suspect’s bank accounts were used as conduit of money laundering in efforts to conceal, disguise the nature, source, disposition and movement of the illicit funds and should be preserved,” ARA said.