Economy

Court bars auction of Anglo Leasing suspect’s properties

EACC

The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission offices in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

The Court of Appeal has barred the anti-graft body from auctioning properties worth millions of shillings belonging to a former chief accountant at the National Treasury suspected to have been acquired from Anglo Leasing scandal proceeds.

Justices Asike Makhandia, Jamila Mohammed and Dr Imaana Laibuta it was only fair to preserve the properties and stop Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) from selling them pending the determination of the appeal.

Mr Patrick Ochieno Abachi said among the properties to be seized by EACC was the family home in Kitengela and others, which he acquired long before the alleged period the anti-graft body investigated him.

“We are convinced that the applicants’ fears are not idle, moreso when some of the assets comprise a family home, that may lead to their eviction therefrom, as well as money held in their accounts,” the judges said.

Justice Mumbi Ngugi had in November last year, ruled that the properties belonging to Mr Abachi, estimated to have been worth Sh80 million when they were valued in 2008, were proceeds of crime and should be forfeited to the government.

The appellate court judges noted that if sold, the move will cause hardship to Mr Abachi and his family.

“It is also clear that if the assets are sold to third parties as envisaged, the substratum of the appeal will have been lost as the third parties will have been introduced which will ideally make the reversal to the applicants difficult. We do not see the prejudice that may be suffered by the 1st respondent absent stay,” the Judges said.

The properties include nine parcels of land in Mavoko (Machakos) and Kitengela (Kajiado), a four-bedroom house in Mavoko, four apartments in Parkview Estate South C, a house in Mugoya Estate and a property in Nyali, Mombasa.

The court also ordered the forfeiture of five motor vehicles, money in three accounts (not disclosed) and Sh1.99 million which was seized from his house in November 28, 2007.

Justice Ngugi (now Court of Appeal judge) noted that Mr Abachi was given an opportunity to explain the source of the funds, given that it was not commensurate with his salary.

Evidence presented to court showed that Mr Abachi was the chief accountant at the Ministry of Agriculture earning a gross salary of Sh54,000. He was later moved to the Treasury.

By 2008, Mr Abachi had acquired properties worth over Sh80 million, which he registered in his names, those of his wife, children and relatives as well as companies where he is the majority shareholder.

EACC said investigations revealed that he was directly involved in the Anglo Leasing transactions and authorised the payments to the phony companies.

The anti-graft body said the properties were proceeds of crime because he failed to indicate them in his wealth declaration forms and that they were acquired through abuse of office as he allegedly used his position to improperly confer benefits to himself, within a span of five years, between 2002 and 2007.

Evidence showed that Mr Abachi used to make daily deposits, amounts that would add up to Sh70,000 in two days and a minimum of Sh300,000 monthly, yet he earned a net salary of Sh35,000.