Rigathi Gachagua loses Sh200 million to the State
Mathira lawmaker Rigathi Gachagua has lost Sh200 million to the State. High Court Judge Esther Maina ruled on Thursday that the lawmaker, who is also the Kenya Kwanza Deputy President nominee, has failed to explain how he acquired the wealth from government agencies.
In 2020, the High Court froze Sh200 million belonging to Mr Gachagua pending a petition by a State agency for the money to be forfeited to the government.
Documents filed in court showed the funds are suspected to be proceeds of crime because they are payments to companies associated with the legislator and which emanated from government agencies.
According to the Assets Recovery Agency (ARA), preliminary investigations established that Mr Gachagua and Jenne Enterprises Limited were involved in a suspected complex scheme of money laundering.
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. Justice John Onyiego of the Anti-Corruption Division of the High Court stopped the MP and Jenne Enterprises from dealing with or transferring the funds.
The funds at Rafiki Micro Finance Bank are held in three accounts, with one holding Sh165 million, a second account holds Sh35 million while the other holds Sh773,228. All the three are registered in the MP’s name.
A fourth account, holding Sh1,138,142, is registered in the name of Jenne Enterprises. 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.
It is alleged that on March 30, the agency received information on suspected complex money-laundering schemes and proceeds of crime.
The agency opened an inquiry and subsequently applied for and was issued with warrants to investigate the accounts. Further, the documents stated that after being transferred to companies or business entities, the funds were ultimately moved to a fixed deposit account, which is Mr Gachagua’s personal account.
“That within the said period, there were massive suspicious cash withdrawals, transfers, inter and intra-bank transfers from other accounts to the accounts under investigations and other bank accounts owned by Mr Gachagua in suspicious complex money-laundering schemes,” the agency said.
“There are reasonable grounds to believe that the suspect’s bank accounts were used as a conduit for money laundering in efforts to conceal, disguise the nature, source, disposition and movement of illicit funds and should be preserved,” the agency submitted to court.
ARA argued that it was apprehensive that unless the court intervenes, the MP was likely to withdraw the funds and defeat the cause of justice.