Couple loses luxury car, lorry to State

High Court judge Esther Maina during a past court session. FILE PHOTO | NMG

A couple facing charges of human trafficking has lost a luxurious vehicle and a lorry to the State after the High Court ruled that they were proceeds of crime.

High Court judge Esther Maina agreed with the Assets Recovery Agency (ARA) that the two motor vehicles were used by Elosy Kendi Mutwiri and Felix Mutwiri Muthamia as decoys to disguise the source of the funds.

The two vehicles were purchased using loans from Situ Investments Ltd, a micro-lender, and NCBA Bank and the judge noted that the loan repayments were derived from the illicit trade.

“It follows, therefore, that since the respondents (the couple) had no legal source of income, the monies they were receiving into their accounts were from the offence of trafficking in persons,” said the judge.

Justice Maina said the loans borrowed were decoys intended to conceal and disguise the source of the funds.

The judge added that whatever property they acquired from the income were proceeds of crime.

Jillo Rufus, an investigator with the agency said the couple was linked to the trafficking of 106 Ethiopians who were arrested in a house in Karura Estate in Ruiru on July 12, 2021.

The Ethiopians, aged between 15 and 40 years, had no identification or travel documents and an investigation by the police revealed that the house was leased by the couple for the illegitimate business.

The Mutwiris had also hired a cook and caretaker to take care of the aliens.

They were charged with human trafficking offence before a Kibera court in 2021 but the case is yet to be determined.

ARA added that Mr Mutwiri was intercepted on December 25, 2021, along Nkubu-Chuka Road ferrying 31 people and was charged before a Nkubu magistrate with holding improperly documented persons. The case is still pending.

On the vehicles, the agency through Mohammed Adow submitted that Ms Mutwiri had received deposits amounting to Sh8.6 million between May 6, 2020 and June 9, 2021 into her bank account at Equity Bank.

He said the funds were then used as a cover for repayments of loans used to purchase the vehicles.

The court heard that she paid Sh850,000 cash deposit for one of the vehicles and made instalments of between Sh50,000 and Sh800,000.

When asked the source of the money, Ms Mutwiri said she was self-employed earning an income of between Sh251,000 and Sh500,000 from running a grocery but the agency dismissed her defence saying it was not satisfactory.

ARA said for the second vehicle, the repayments to offset the loan were made through M-Pesa payments.

Situ Investments opposed the application to forfeit one of the vehicles to the state saying the Mutwiris still owed it Sh1.06 million, but which had since risen to Sh1.8 million after the couple started defaulting on loan repayments in June 2021.

The company said it wanted to seize the vehicle and auction it to recover its money but was blocked by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations.

NCBA, on its part, said the outstanding loan stood at Sh3.6 million as at July 4, 2023, when the repayment fell into arrears.

The judge dismissed the defence advanced by the lenders stating that the allegations that the couple were involved in human trafficking were not controverted.

The court also noted that the couple was not filing tax returns.

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