Nearly half a billion shillings allegedly stolen by former Cabinet minister Chris Okemo and Kenya Power boss Samuel Gichuru and stashed in Jersey Island will be wired to Kenya.
The transfer of the cash, which is believed to be proceeds of graft, was made possible by a 2018 agreement signed in Kenya by then UK Prime Minister Theresa May, President Uhuru Kenyatta, and the Swiss and Jersey governments.
The return of the loot is the first win of this agreement known as the Framework for the Return of Assets from Corruption and Crime to Kenya (Fracck). The money will be used to finance the purchase of Covid-19 management supplies.
Kenya’s High Commissioner in the UK, Manoah Esipisu hailed the deal as “a victory for the people of Kenya.”
The Jersey loot came into the limelight in 2006 as the former Kenya Power chief fought off a messy divorce case with his wife Salome Njeri.
Ms Njeri protested that Mr Gichuru did not declare all his assets. In court filings, she shared bank accounts she said belonged to Mr Gichuru in Jersey, a self-governing island in the English channel that is famous for secretive offshore banking and a low-tax jurisdiction.
Upon investigations, Jersey accused Mr Gichuru and Mr Okemo of pocketing kickbacks from multinationals and banking the same with a Jersey-registered firm.
In 2016, their Jersey-registered firm, Windward Trading Ltd, pleaded guilty to four counts of money laundering in a Jersey court, noted BBC adding that the court ruled that the company, whose ultimate owner was Mr Gichuru, should be stripped of more than $4.9 million in assets for money laundering. This is the bulk of the money that Kenya will receive.
Jersey has since issued warrants of arrest for both men and the authorities have been waiting for their extradition from Kenya.
In November last year, the Supreme Court allowed the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Noordin Haji to proceed with the extradition process of both men.
The economic crimes they were accused of included an engagement with a Finnish firm to set up a power station near Mombasa, where the two took millions of shillings in kickbacks from British, Norwegian and German engineering firms, as well as a US communications company.
Mr Okemo served in President Daniel Moi’s government as the Minister for Energy between 1999 and 2001 while Mr Gichuru was the managing director of utility firm Kenya Power between November 1984 and February 2003.