Thou shall not hum a different political tune.
Former Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri finds himself in a fix after the magistrate court on Monday granted the government the permission to investigate the politician’s bank accounts over alleged money laundering.
The court allowed the Assets Recovery Agency (ARA) to comb through Kinjuri’s accounts at Equity Bank. The agency has now asked the bank to provide the account opening documents, statements of accounts, cheque deposits, withdrawal slips, and electronic cash transfers.
This comes after Kinjuri launched a new political party last week, The Service Party, six months after being ejected from the cabinet. The move to launch the party comes in anticipation of the 2022 elections where President Uhuru Kenyatta has already indicated he is keen to play a pivotal role in grooming his preferred successor.
Kiunjuri, an ally to Deputy President William Ruto, was planning to run for the Laikipia gubernatorial seat before being asked to stand down in exchange for a position in the cabinet, given his new party is seeking primary support from the populous Mt Kenya region which happens to be President Kenyatta’s political bastion it seems that forces against Kiunjuri’s political aspirations have caught up with him.
Last week, a High Court judge froze four bank accounts belonging to Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua, another staunch Ruto ally over alleged funneling of Ksh5.8 billion dirty money deposited to his account, the State alleged that the funds were proceeds of corruption acquired through defrauding various state agencies.
Some of the suspicious payments made to Mr. Gachagua came from the National Irrigation Board (NIB), which was under the Ministry of Agriculture during Mr. Kiunjuri’s time at the helm. The board was recently moved to the Water Ministry.
ARA is seeking to investigate whether funds from the irrigation board were wired to Mr Kiunjuri’s bank accounts via Gachagua or his associates.
“That the honourable court be pleased to issue orders to investigate and inspect the books of accounts related to the following bank accounts domiciled at Equity Bank in the name of Mwangi Kiunjuri and any other account,” ARA said in a petition to the court.
The magistrate granted the orders and directed Equity Bank to provide electronic evidence of the transactions in the accounts from January 1, 2014 to date.
The agency was also allowed to investigate other bank accounts in the names of Petlico Agencies Company Ltd, Karandi Farm Ltd, Skytop Agencies, Riang International Group, Encartar Diagnostic Ltd and Beth Wacheri Wacunga.
As it stands, the High Court has frozen more than Ksh200 million belonging to Mr. Gachagua, pending a petition by a State agency for the money to be forfeited to the government.
Mr Gichagua’s accounts at Rafiki Micro Finance Bank will remain frozen for 90 days.
Documents filed in court showed that within seven years, the MP received Ksh5.8 billion, which included funds from companies or business entities providing services to ministries, State agencies and county governments.
The funds emanated from the Ministry of Lands, State Department for Special Planning, Ministry of Health, Bungoma County government, Mathira Constituency Development Fund, Nyeri County government and the NIB.
The High Court has stopped the MP and Jenne Enterprises from dealing with or transferring the funds.
“There are reasonable grounds to believe that the suspect’s bank accounts were used as conduit of money laundering in efforts to conceal, disguise the nature, source, disposition and movement of the illicit funds and should be preserved,” ARA said.