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Economy

How lawyers helped Ben Gethi to launder NYS millions

Benson Gethi at a Nairobi court on November 24 where he was charged with stealing Sh791 million belonging to the NYS between Dec 1, 2014 and April 30, 2015. PHOTO | PAUL WAWERU
Benson Gethi at a Nairobi court on November 24 where he was charged with stealing Sh791 million belonging to the NYS between Dec 1, 2014 and April 30, 2015. PHOTO | PAUL WAWERU  

Controversial businessman Ben Gethi and other beneficiaries of the Sh791 million National Youth Service (NYS) used lawyers to launder the cash, police have revealed in court.

The Banking Fraud Investigation Unit (BFIU) says in court filings that Mr Gethi and other suspected beneficiaries wired funds to lawyers who then purchased property on their behalf, with some of the legal agents registering property in their law firms’ names to ward off attention.

Jeremiah Sautet, an investigator, has cited Ogola & Mujera Advocates LLP, Glinnis Kigera & Company, Martin Muthomi Gitonga & Company and Waweru Kihara Company Advocates as some of the law firms used to acquire property with the NYS funds.

The Assets Recovery Agency (ARA) has filed a suit seeking to recover assets worth Sh585 million from some of the alleged perpetrators, including Mr Gethi, his family, businesswoman Josephine Kabura, John Kago and lawyers Patrick Ogola and Marin Muthomi.

“I established a pattern where the money would be transferred from the said accounts from John Kago or other companies who would then transfer to various firms of advocates. The advocates would then apply the funds towards purchase of various properties,” Mr Sautet says in a sworn affidavit.

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Investigators believe that Mr Kago was a middleman acting for Mr Gethi as he wired funds to the lawyers in some instances and in others registered land and other assets in the names of Mr Gethi’s mother and sister.

Mr Sautet says in court papers that Mr Ogola received a whopping Sh103 million as legal fees. The BFIU believes the money was stolen through manipulation of the Integrated Financial Management System (IFMIS).

Mr Muthomi, a lawyer who was one of the plaintiffs in a 2011 High Court petition that saw the last General Election pushed from 2012 to 2013, received Sh78.75 million.

He successfully challenged the initial 2012 election date alongside former Kilome MP John Harun Mwau, Milton Mugambi Imanyara and Lawrence Gumbe. Their petition saw elections pushed to March 2013.

Investigators say in court papers that a Range Rover Mr Kago bought and registered was initially registered in his name, but later transferred to Mr Ogola’s practice, Ogola & Mujera Advocates LLP.

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