Some Sh743 million worth of stolen assets and cash were traced and frozen in the past 11 months as the newly established Asset Recovery Agency (ARA) flexed its muscles in the war against corruption.
The agency says in a newly released report that most of the assets are proceeds of crime from the National Youth Service (NYS) scandal that is still under investigation and prosecution by the various State agencies.
The list of recovered assets includes five plots of land worth Sh169.2 million, five motor vehicles valued at Sh43.5 million, a city restaurant valued at Sh16 million and cash in various bank accounts totalling Sh128.6 million.
The remaining Sh385.9 million are in the form of assets frozen in a tax evasion case involving Eastleigh Mall where the ARA has obtained court orders barring the owners from selling or transferring assets until an application to take control of the building to recover unpaid revenue has been determined.
ARA director Muthoni Kimani told Parliament that the agency is facing challenges involving human resource capacity and limited resources that have prevented it from aggressively going after the thieves.
“Unfortunately we do not have enough people with the skills in financial and forensic audit to help us achieve full potential,” she told the Senate Public Accounts and Investments Committee (PAIC).
The committee heard that the ARA was until November last year unable to move to court because it was yet to be operationalised.
“Since November we have been able to move to court for the NYS case and freeze some assets because the investigators were able to trace some assets and monitor how the funds were moving,” Ms Kimani said.
The ARA director told the Senators that the agency gives priority to sensitive cases that are of great public interest, explaining why most of the frozen property is linked to the NYS scam.
“If a matter is sensitive we prioritise it by making available all the resources needed and the investigation is fast tracked,” she said.
Among the five parcels of land believed to have been bought with proceeds of the NYS cash theft is a plot in Thika valued at Sh35 million and another one in Muthaiga valued at Sh45 million belonging to embattled businessman Ben Gethi’s mother, Charity Wangui.
Other properties identified for seizure and registered under Ms Wangui’s name are a house in Rosslyn Estate valued at Sh63.5 million and a jeep valued at Sh6.3 million.
Ms Wangui has, however, denied in court filings that any of the parcels of land, houses or the Range Rover linked to the NYS scam are registered to her.
Credit: Business Daily