Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Kenya offered share of Okemo, Gichuru loot

It is up to Attorney-General Amos Wako (left) to seek the court orders to extradite the two after Interpol issued a red notice against them. Photos/FILE

It is up to Attorney-General Amos Wako (left) to seek the court orders to extradite the two after Interpol issued a red notice against them. Photos/FILE 

By PAMELA CHEPKEMEI [email protected]

Jersey has opened negotiations with Kenya over the sharing of a fortune stashed in its banks by two Kenyans it accuses of corruption and money laundering.

Some Sh900 million, which the British tax haven accuses former Cabinet minister Chris Okemo and former Kenya Power managing director Samuel Gichuru of corruptly obtaining, is on the table for sharing if the two are convicted and their fortune confiscated.

Jersey considers the money proceeds of money laundering. It also says that small offenders in the scandal will be lined up in Jersey as witnesses against Mr Gichuru and Mr Okemo.

The proposals are contained in documents forwarded recently to the State Law Office by the Jersey authorities, arguing that confiscation is a vital weapon in the fight against the crimes Mr Gichuru and Mr Okemo are accused of.

The law in Jersey allows sharing of confiscated assets with other interested countries or victims of crime.

“We wish to enter into asset sharing negotiations with Kenya with a view to ensuring repayment,” reads the document presented to the State Law office.

At the same time, the United Kingdom on Wednesday defended its efforts to have the pair extradited to Jersey Island. British High Commissioner Rob Macaire said Jersey Island Solicitor-General Howard Sharp was in the country to speed up the process.

“I can confirm that the Solicitor-General of Jersey, Mr Howard Sharp, is in Nairobi this week, assisting relevant Kenyan authorities in relation to the extradition of Messrs Okemo and Gichuru,” Mr Macaire said in Nairobi.

The envoy criticised MPs who had earlier opposed Mr Sharp’s trip.

The proposals could also be meant to reassure Kenya that it does not stand to lose should Mr Gichuru and Mr Okemo be extradited and tried abroad.

The little tax haven island says it would like the extradition case against Mr Gichuru and Mr Okemo given priority because the charges the two face are serious.

“This was not a case of one or two companies trying to gain competitive advantage. The allegation is that Mr Gichuru demanded payments from all companies wanting to do business in Kenya,” the Jersey authorities claim.

Jersey has requested the extradition of the two former powerful figures in the Moi regime. Mr Okemo is the MP for Nambale constituency. They are accused of laundering about Sh900 million allegedly obtained corruptly.

Extradition proceedings begin today before the Nairobi Chief Magistrate.

The case was filed in early July by the Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko after arrest warrants issued on April 20 against the two were forwarded to Kenyan authorities through Interpol.

The assets being targeted include Sh450 million (£3 million) in a bank account in Jersey and other immovable assets still being tracked by Jersey authorities.

The Jersey authorities see the Kenyan public as the victims of the alleged crimes by Mr Okemo and Mr Gichuru, documents show.

During the negotiations, Kenya would have to take into account the expenses Jersey has incurred in exposing the crime and pursuing the case against the pair.

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