Gichuru, Okemo’s hidden millions seized
Jersey authorities have seized the entire stash of cash that former Kenya Power managing director Samuel Gichuru and ex-Energy minister Chris Okemo hid in the island, even as they vowed to continue pushing for extradition of the duo to face money laundering, fraud and misconduct charges.
The Royal Court of Jersey on Wednesday made a confiscation order to seize the £3.28 million and $540,330.69 (totalling Sh520 million) held in the offshore account of Windward Trading Limited – the entity Mr Gichuru used to receive kickbacks in exchange for the award of lucrative tenders to foreign firms during his two-decade tenure at the helm of Kenya Power.
Jersey’s Attorney General Robert MacRae said the decision had the effect of “stripping the company of all its assets,” leaving his office to focus on the ongoing effort to bring Mr Gichuru and Mr Okemo to justice.
“This is a very important case, demonstrating Jersey’s commitment to combatting money-laundering and tackling international corruption,” said Mr MacRae shortly after the court made the asset recovery order.
“The confiscation order provides an indication as to the scale of the criminal conduct that took place.”
The Attorney- General expressed optimism that Kenyan authorities would conclude the ongoing extradition proceedings so that Gichuru and Okemo are handed over “to face money laundering charges in connection with Windward’s activities.”
Mr Gichuru’s systematic bribery scheme involved energy companies from a dozen countries, forcing Jersey authorities to seek mutual legal assistance from 12 governments in pursuit of the stolen wealth.
Mr Gichuru and Mr Okemo face 53 counts linked to “commissions” paid by companies to win Kenya Power tenders and hidden in a Jersey account in foreign currencies: £4.45 million; $3.2 million and kr790,000; (totalling Sh1.01 billion at current exchange rates), according to Jersey court papers.
The duo kept withdrawing handsome amounts from the Jersey account until 2003 when administrators of the slush fund refused to wire payments to Gichuru fearing punitive consequences from the Kibaki regime, which had hired Kroll Associates to track and repatriate funds stolen and stashed abroad under the Kanu regime.