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Economy

Millions netted in Swazuri team raid

National Land Commission chairman Muhammad Swazuri. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NMG
National Land Commission chairman Muhammad Swazuri. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NMG 

Anti-corruption detectives Thursday detained top officials of the National Land Commission (NLC) following raids on their homes and offices which netted Sh18 million in local currency and dollars.

The cash was found in one of the homes following raids by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission which also recovered what it described as “crucial documents”. 

The simultaneous raids conducted at the crack of dawn were sanctioned by a court following a probe into billions of shillings paid to land owners which paved the way for construction of the Nairobi-Mombasa standard gauge railway (SGR).

Commission chairman Muhammad Swazuri, vice chairman Abigale Mbagaya Mukolwe and CEO Tom Aziz Changingi were detained following the raids.

NLC Finance Director Francis Mugo and his deputy Ben Cherutich were also detained.

EACC deputy CEO Michael Mubea confirmed recovery of the cash suspected to be part of suspect payments.

“We have recovered crucial documents which will aid in our investigation. We have also recovered almost Sh18 million. Sixteen million in foreign currency and the rest in Kenyan shillings. We cannot cast aspersions this early and we cannot reveal the identity of the official for purposes of confidentiality.”

The EACC is investigating compensation to individuals for land owned by the government, double compensation, payments to people who did not own land acquired for the project, excessive compensation as a result of over-valuation and payments in regard to Kenya Railway reserve land.”

The Transport ministry last November said the SGR land compensation bill stands at Sh33 billion or 10 per cent of the project cost of Sh327billion.

SGR payments have also been a subject of a parliamentary probe which heard claims of bribery and division among commissioners.

Besides the homes, the detectives raided NLC offices at ACK Bishops Annex in Nairobi and took away documents and electronics they deemed crucial for investigations.

Dr Swazuri received a Sh1.2 million bribe to process compensation for land for SGR, a petitioner seeking his removal from office told MPs on Thursday.

He was to receive an additional Sh25 million if the petitioner successfully got paid for a seven acre piece of land worth Sh43 million.

The NLC chair was also accused of colluding with fraudsters to pay more than Sh1 billion in compensation claims for land that belonged to the government.

Lands Cabinet secretary Jacob Kaimenyi said earlier the commission may have used “fake or non-existent” letters of allotment, part development lans and survey plans as a basis for making compensation worth Sh300 million for five parcels of land.

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