Uhuru orders swift Kemsa probe as Ngiritas lose assets in NYS case
- High Court judge Mumbi Ngugi ruled that the Ngirita family failed to explain how they acquired the properties.
- She noted that the family received multiple payments in a single day.
- The Ngiritas received in excess of Sh400 million from the National Youth Service.
The anti-corruption war secured twin wins Wednesday after President Kenyatta ordered speedy investigations into the suspected looting of Covid-19 funds and a court order sanctioned seizure of stolen wealth from the accused persons in another scandal.
The President directed conclusion of investigations into claims of procurement impropriety at the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa) within 21 days, on a day the Ngirita family were ordered to forfeit to the State property worth about Sh95 million bought with proceeds from shady deals with the National Youth Service (NYS).
The Ngiritas during a past court appearance.
And signalling a shakeup at Afya House, State House announced that the President had named a new Principal Secretary in charge of Public Health, Francis Owino, whittling down the role of Principal Secretary Susan Mochache who was earmarked to oversee Medical Services only.
Ms Mochache was the only PS in the Ministry of Health, and the changes, which were however retracted minutes after they were communicated by State House spokesperson Kanze Dena, without explanation, suggest there are plans to check her influence.
Principal Secretary Susan Mochache.
In the changes made with a view of “strengthening the management of the ministry of Health” according to the retracted statement, and which were to take effect immediately, Peter Kinuthia was to take over as Principal Administrative Secretary.
Dr Owino is Industrialisation PS and the changes would have meant his colleague at the ministry Johnson Weru would be in charge of the entire Industrialisation, Trade and Enterprise Development docket.
Mr Peter Kinuthia Thuku had been appointed as the Principal Administrative Secretary in the Health ministry with Amb Johnson Weru replacing Dr Owino at the Trade ministry. In the courts, the government managed to recover properties worth about Sh95 million from the Ngirita family after a judge ruled that they were proceeds of crime.
Parcels of land
High Court judge Mumbi Ngugi said the parcels of land in Nakuru, Naivasha and Trans Nzoia and a Toyota station wagon vehiicle should be forfeited to the government, following a successful application by Assets Recovery Agency.
The judge ruled that the Ngirita family, which received in excess of Sh400 million from the National Youth Service, failed to explain how they acquired the properties. The judge noted that the family received multiple payments in a single day.
In October 17 and 18, for instance, the three including the mother Lucy Wambui and her daughter Phyllis and son Jeremiah Gichina, received a total of Sh133 million.
They then went into a spending spree buying land and vehicles. Court documents showed that Mrs Ngirita received Sh211 million from NYS to KCB accounts belonging to her firms; Waluco Investments and Ngiwaco Investments. Jeremiah through his company JerryCathy received Sh87.9 million between December 2015 and April 2016. Mrs Ngirita transferred Sh58 million to her personal account at KCB and bought a Sh46 million plot in Naivasha and another in Nakuru for Sh7 million, ARA documents reveal.
She jointly with her son purchased a 0.70-hectare parcel of land in Waitaluk in Kitale for Sh20 million.
Jeremiah bought plots in Naivasha and Nakuru for Sh2.5 million while Phyllis received Sh57.2 million from NYS. The properties were purchased between 2016 and 2017, the period when money was stolen from NYS. Although the court noted that they had done business with NYS, the judge said it was upon them to demonstrate that the properties were not purchased from proceeds of crime.
The court, however, ordered the release of one Toyota station wagon, registered in the name of Opportunity International WEDCO ltd. Also released is Sh800,000, borrowed from Platinum Credit by Phyllis. ARA noted that 10 payment vouchers worth Sh79.7 million for supply of workshop and drilling equipment and accessories were prepared on the same day, October 14, 2016 in favour of their companies.
The agency questioned why different vouchers were prepared rather than the payment being done by a single voucher. ARA said this was a clear indication of a money laundering scheme.
Further, the court heard that there was nothing to show how the contracts were awarded nor was there trading licences and payment of taxes on income earned to prove that they were undertaking legitimate business.
The family had defended themselves saying they did legitimate business with NYS and other agencies and there was nothing illegal in receiving payment for business.
The family claimed they cultivate maize, watermelons, and supplied firewood, bread, uniforms and vegetables among other items to the NYS.
They further said that they are hard-working Kenyans “who have supplied various government agencies with goods and services for over 20 years”.
Additional reporting by Allan Olingo