Moses Kuria pick for Kebs chair caught up in Sh278m unexplained wealth case

Dr Jeremiah Kamau Kinyua is the Chairman of the National Standards Council (NSC). FILE PHOTO | GRAPHICS | POOL | CHRISPUS BARGORETT 

The High Court has frozen more than 19 properties estimated to be worth Sh278 million belonging to the new Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) board chairman Jeremiah Kamau Kinyua.

The wealth is suspected to have been acquired through bribes while he worked at the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA).

Mr Kinyua was appointed by Trade Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria as the chairperson of the National Standards Council, the policy-setting organ for Kebs, which is at the centre of a sugar scandal, in January.

His troubles worsened last week when the High Court allowed the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) to bar him from disposing of the properties, pending an application for forfeiture of the assets to the State.

Justice Esther Maina allowed the application by the EACC to freeze the properties.

Dr Kinyua previously worked as the head of the field enforcement operations unit at the KRA in Nairobi and the anti-graft body suspects that the wealth was acquired through corruption.

The EACC says it is apprehensive that Dr Kinyua would dispose of the properties in Nairobi, Kitengela, Kiambu and Laikipia to defeat the forfeiture application.

“The defendants have not shown to this court the inconvenience suffered that would outweigh the impending risk of loss or dissipation of the suit properties,” the judge said, adding that in the circumstances, it was right to grant the injunction in favour of the EACC.

The agency said Dr Kinyua and his companies have in the past engaged in schemes to conceal the assets in corporate entities.

The EACC said there is an urgent need to prohibit any dealings whatsoever with the said assets to prevent them from being wasted as it would render the forfeiture proceedings useless.

Dr Kinyua was appointed the chairperson of the NSC in a gazette notice on January 20 for a period of three years.

Speaking to Business Daily on phone, Dr Kinyua said the EACC inflated land prices and what has been quoted is not the actual value of the parcels.

He revealed that he is a wheat farmer in Laikipia and believes that the case was politically instigated.

The case is coming up for hearing in July before Justice Nixon Sifuna.

The EACC filed the case last year, stating that Dr Kinyua is suspected to have acquired the property through bribes. This is after accumulating assets worth Sh359.5 million.

He later satisfactorily explained how he acquired properties worth Sh83 million, leaving others worth Sh278.4 million unexplained.

The properties include plots in Nairobi and three others in Kitengela all worth Sh68 million. The land in Laikipia, according to EACC, is registered in the name of Bestline Enterprises and is valued at Sh18 million.

Also frozen are four plots in Ruiru, Kiambu County, valued at Sh95 million and a Toyota Prado registered in a company known as Cherya Enterprises.

The anti-graft body seized Sh500,000 and yuan 15,648.00 in cash from his residence on June 9, 2021.

The court allowed the application by the EACC to keep the money, pending the conclusion of the case.

Dr Kinyua worked at the KRA for seven years before he resigned in March 2021. The EACC said his net pay for the period was Sh11.6 million.

According to the EACC, his explanation of how he acquired the wealth was inadequate and the assets should be forfeited to the government.

The commission said Dr Kinyua was the ultimate beneficiary of the funds acquired as a result of abuse of office and unethical conduct and the circuitous transfer of funds was intended to conceal its illegitimate sources.

The commission says Dr Kinyua received huge and successive cash deposits to his bank accounts and M-Pesa messages, which he failed to satisfactorily demonstrate their sources, leading to the conclusion they were bribes obtained while in office.

Court documents show that Dr Kinyua was employed at the KRA as a graduate trainee on January 28, 2005. He was promoted to a supervisor, the domestic taxes department, and later as the head of enforcement until he resigned to join politics.

The EACC says the investigation narrowed to seven years, when he acquired the 19 parcels of land in Ruiru in Kiambu County, Kitengela, Laikipia and Nairobi.

Some of the properties were removed from the targeted assets after he explained how he acquired them.

The PhD holder in strategic management from Kenyatta University is also a part-time lecturer.

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