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Economy

Suspected City Hall cash theft conduit loses bid to access bank accounts

Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko
A businessman accused of being a conduit to siphon money from City Hall by Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko has lost an application to unfreeze his bank accounts and the release of his seized motor vehicles. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

A businessman accused of being a conduit to siphon money from City Hall by Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko has lost an application to unfreeze his bank accounts and the release of his seized motor vehicles.

Justice Mumbi Ngugi dismissed the application by Anthony Ng’ang’a Mwaura, saying the businessman failed to demonstrate how his business was hurting, following the freezing of his eight accounts and the confiscation of his nine vehicles.

Mr Mwaura and Ms Rose Njeri, the directors of Hardi Enterprises Ltd and Toddy Civil Engineering Company had argued that the freezing of the accounts was hurting operations of the companies, because they were carrying out projects with several counties and the national government.

They also said three of the vehicles seized by Assets recovery Agency (ARA) were purchased before the companies secured tenders with the Nairobi County government.

“They did not in my view, show how the orders will deprive them of the means to provide for their reasonable living expenses and cause undue hardship to them and how such hardship outweighs the risk that the property concerned may be destroyed, lost, damaged, concealed or transferred,” the judge said.

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Mr Mwaura argued that since the accounts were frozen, the performance of the projects had become difficult.

But the ARA maintained that the companies made suspicious cash deposits and withdrawals, intra and inter-bank transfers within the same banks and others, making it believe that the monies are proceeds of crime.

On November 22, 2018, the agency said Hardi received some Sh102,414,130 through its Equity Bank from City Hall and split the money into five branches of Sh5,156,118, Sh48,651,988, Sh26,154,700, Sh18,063,443 and Sh4,387,839. Some of the money were later transferred to Toddy Civil Engineering, while some were wired to Mr Sonko’s account.

Another account frozen at Equity Bank received a total of Sh175.5 million “in eight suspicious split transactions between October 15 and November 22, 2018”, from the county government.

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