Economy

Court freezes two prime properties linked to Wa Iria

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Murang'a Governor Mwangi Wa Iria. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NMG

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Summary

  • Justice Esther Maina granted the orders freezing the 13-acre parcel in Mweiga, Nyeri County and another parcel in Nairobi’s Umoja Innercore, linked to Mr Wa Iria and his spouse and associates.
  • The anti-graft body says that the properties were acquired from payments for contracts awarded by the county government to a media company known as Top Image.
  • An investigator with EACC said they have been investigating allegations of corruption, breach of procurement laws and conflict of interest in the award of tenders by the county government.

The High Court has frozen two properties in Nairobi and Nyeri linked to Murang’a governor Mwangi Wa Iria, which the anti-graft body suspects to have been acquired from funds siphoned from the county government.

Justice Esther Maina granted the orders freezing the 13-acre parcel in Mweiga, Nyeri County and another parcel in Nairobi’s Umoja Innercore, linked to Mr Wa Iria and his spouse and associates, pending determination of a petition for the properties to be forfeited to the government.

The anti-graft body says that the properties were acquired from payments for contracts awarded by the county government to a media company known as Top Image. In total, EACC says the company was paid Sh542.6 million between 2013 and 2017.

Further, EACC accuses Mr Wa Iria, who is seeking to be the country’s president in the forthcoming election, of receiving kickbacks and bribes from the company, which he has interests directly and indirectly and using his office to enrich himself, his spouse and associates.

An investigator with EACC said they have been investigating allegations of corruption, breach of procurement laws and conflict of interest in the award of tenders by the county government.

Being the governor, Mr Wa Iria allegedly influenced the award of tenders in favour of Top Image Consultants Ltd, a company owned by his close associates or relatives.

“The 4th defendant being a public officer and agent of Murang’a county knowingly held a private interest in the contracts for media buying services, entered into between the 2nd defendant (Top Image) and the county and which private interest was in conflict with his powers and functions of his public office,” court documents stated.

The EACC further said the company is owned by Mr Wa Iria’s associates who would subsequently transfer the funds received from the county government to him directly and indirectly through another company known as Value View ltd.

Top Image later purchased the two properties on behalf of Value View in Umoja in Nairobi and 13 acres in Nyeri County. His spouse is a director of Value View ltd, according to EACC.

The property in Umoja was purchased for Sh7.5 million in September 2014 and was paid in full by Top Image, while the Nyeri land was purchased for Sh8.8 million in January 2015 on behalf of Value View.

Court documents further state that Top Image also paid Sh9.5 million for another property but the deal did not go through and the money is still being held by Mlima Kenya Holiday Homes. In the said court case, Wa Iria allegedly paid Sh3.8 million for the breach of contract.

“That preliminary investigations have also revealed that the 1st respondent (Wa Iria) has also been in direct and indirect receipt of substantial sums of money from the 2nd respondent during the time that he has been governor of Murang’a County,” EACC said.

The court heard that the governor or his companies might dispose of the property defeating the case.

Last year, Mr Wa Iria accused EACC of witch-hunt in the probe and denied owning the frozen properties.

“Ownership of land is a matter of law that cannot be presumed and in the absence of any evidence of applicant’s ownership of the property, the interim orders were procured by misrepresentation of material facts and which, should therefore be set aside,” he said in reply.

The governor says he has no basis involving himself in the procurement of media services within Murang’a County, which is the subject of the investigations as it is the function of the county’s procurement department.

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