Two Kenyans, who are former movers and shakers in government and corporate Kenya, have found themselves holding the short end of the stick in a financial fraud investigation and could push them behind bars for over a dozen years in Britain if found guilty of racketeering.
Former Kenya Power CEO Samuel Gichuru and former Energy Cabinet minister Chris Okemo face up to 14 years’ imprisonment each in the UK after the possibility of being extradited to the Jersey Island for theft and money laundering charges inched closer to reality.
The Supreme Court of Kenya has allowed the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to proceed with the extradition proceedings that stalled at a magistrate court 10 years ago following opposition from the Attorney General. The two are wanted by the Royal Court of Jersey for accepting bribes from foreign businesses that won tenders at Kenya Power – while serving as energy minister (Okemo) and KPLC Managing Director (Gichuru) – with proceeds wired to the island.
The extradition process stalled due to legal challenges and a fight between the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) and the Attorney General on which State office should institute the action.
The Supreme Court ruled that the mandate to start extradition proceedings falls with the public prosecutor, and not the Attorney General.
With the ruling, the DPP will push for extradition of Mr Okemo and Mr Gichuru to Jersey through the magistrate courts. “The Attorney General however retains the Executive Authority to receive requests for extradition (from the foreign countries) and to transmit the same to the Director of Public Prosecutions for necessary action,” said the Apex court.
Mr Okemo was the Minister for Energy between 1991 and 2001, while Mr Gichuru was the KPLC Managing Director between 1984 and February 2013. Mr Okemo was charged in the Royal Court of Jersey with 13 counts relating to the transactions in the accounts on July 1, 1999, and 2001.
On the other hand, Mr Gichuru faced 40 counts for offences allegedly committed under Jersey law between 1991 and June 28, 2002.
The duo is wanted to face 53 counts linked to “commissions” paid by companies to win Kenya Power tenders and held in a Jersey account in foreign currencies: £4.45 million; $3.2 million and kr790,000 (totaling Sh1.04 billion at current exchange rates), according to Jersey court papers.
The scheme was executed through Windward Trading Ltd — the entity through which Mr Gichuru reportedly received hefty kickbacks to award suppliers lucrative tenders during his two-decade tenure at the helm of Kenya Power that ended in 2003.