A court has frozen the bank accounts of Chief Registrar of the Judiciary Anne Amadi and those of a law firm registered in her name that is at the centre of a gold scandal case in which a British citizen claims to have been defrauded of more than Sh100 million in US dollars in 2021.
Ms Amadi, alongside her son Brian Ochieng, two other Kenyans and a Liberian citizen have been sued by Bruton Gold Trading LLC, a gold trading firm registered in Dubai, which claims to have lost $742,206 between September 22 and October 21, 2021.
According to an affidavit by the trader, Mr Demetrios Bradshaw, the money was meant for the purchase of 1,500 kilogrammes of gold bars, but the precious metal was never delivered to the buyer in Dubai.
The other defendants in the case are Andrew Njenga Kiarie, Kikanae Topoti, Daniel Ndegwa Kangara alias Daniel Muriithi and Edward Taylor alias Mboronda Seyenkulo Sakor, a Liberian passport holder.
Mr Ochieng (Amadi’s son), Mr Kiarie and Mr Topoti are advocates in the law firm, Amadi and Associates, while Mr Kangara was representing a company called Universal Gold Logistics Limited (UGL) and Mr Sakor was said to have been the vendor of the gold.
High Court judge David Majanja on Thursday certified the case as urgent and froze several bank accounts belonging to Ms Amadi and the law firm- Amadi & Associates Advocates, pending the determination of the case.
“That pending the hearing and determination of the application herein, the honourable court be pleased to order that accounts numbers *** domiciled at ABC Bank, Green House Mall, Nairobi, in the name of Amadi & Associates, Advocates (and any other bank account registered to or held by Amadi & Associates), and no funds whatsoever should be withdrawn from the accounts without the express order of the court,” Majanja said.
In his affidavit, Mr Bradshaw says that in September 2021, he entered into a transaction with Mr Taylor and paid the cash to UGL through Amadi and Associates, who were its legal representatives. Mr Kangara then sent him documents indicating that the gold had been exported and would shortly arrive in Dubai. He was given a flight and consignment number.
However, when he checked with the airline, he was told no such consignment had been sent aboard the flight. When he checked with Kangara and Sakor, they informed him that the gold had been taken off the plane as there were some payments which had not been made. He then made the payments and they confirmed to him that some 200 kilogrammes of gold would be exported on the October 22, 2021.
However, Mr Bradshaw says, no gold was ever exported.
Mr Sakor then informed him that a court order prohibiting the transfer of the gold to him had been issued.
Mr Bradshaw later learnt that the suit had in fact been filed by one of the advocates from the same firm, but was subsequently withdrawn and that the order that had been sent to him was different from the actual order that had been issued by court.
He then filed a complaint with the police, who investigated the matter. The investigations showed that the money deposited was withdrawn by Mr Ochieng and one of his partners in the law firm, Mr Kiarie.
In his suit, Mr Bradshaw says Ms Amadi and the three advocates, on behalf of the firm and in their personal capacity, together with Mr Kangara and Mr Taylor illegally obtained the money from him and wants them compelled to refund the cash, with interest and cost of the suit.
He says the account into which the money was paid was opened by Ms Amadi. In support, he attaches a letter Ms Amadi wrote to the bank, requesting the opening of a US dollar and Kenya shilling accounts. In the letter to the bank, dated June 9, 2020, and referenced, “Request to open a client account”, Ms Amadi states: Refer to the above referenced matter, hereby requesting the opening of an advocate’s client account at your renowned banking institution. I have since left private practice and therefore exempted from having a practicing certificate, however, I have appointed Brian O. Amadi (Id. No. ….) and Andrew Njenga Kiarie (ID No…) as signatories to the said account….. We would like to open both a Kenyan shilling and a US dollar account. The mandate of the account shall be both of the signatories of the account to sign.
Also in the court documents is a letter from the Law Society of Kenya, dated March 7, 2022, which states: “We confirm that, according to our records, Kimani James Kinyanjui, Kiarie Andrew Njenga, Kinoti Dennis Murithi and Amadi Brian Ochieng advocates have declared to be associates in the firm of Amadi and Associates Advocates."
There’s also a registration certificate from the Business Registration Services, dated August 23, 2022 which states that a law firm by the name, Amadi and Associates was registered on November 9, 2012, and its proprietor was Anne Atieno Amadi.
Mr Bradshaw states that investigations into the case had revealed that the funds, which were received through the law firm were withdrawn in cash by Mr Ochieng and Mr Ndegwa.
“Simply put the defendants herein orchestrated a fraudulent scheme to obtain money from the plaintiff,” his lawyer Murage Juma and Company said.
After getting wind that the matter was being investigated, Mr Ochieng allegedly called for a meeting and committed to refund the money plus losses incurred by the firm, Mr Bradshaw says. The law firm wrote a letter to the trader’s advocates on May 10, last year and forwarded two cheques totaling to $9,000 as a commitment.
Mr Bradshaw’s advocates accepted the cheques on account that the entire amount would be refunded and requested a proposal on the settlement of the balance.
In the plaint, Mr Bradshaw claims that Ms Amadi in telephone conversations, made proposals to clear the amount within six months, but this was declined because there was no security.
The case was heard exparte (meaning the defendants or their lawyers were not present) and the defendants are yet to file their defences.
Justice Majanja directed the case to be mentioned on May 23.