Life after City Hall seemed good for former Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero.
Dr Kidero was, after all, making millions of shillings from his vast real estate business where he boasts tenants with fat wallets such as the governments of the United States, the United Kingdom and Sweden, flamboyant lawyer Donald Kipkorir and several expatriates.
But on September 20, Nairobi’s first governor got a rude shock when nearly 40 officers from the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) visited his Muthaiga residence at 6.45am, armed with a search and seizure order from the Chief Magistrate’s Court.
BILLIONS OF SHILLINGS
Their mission was to collect evidence that was to be used to prove that Dr Kidero illegally took billions of shillings from taxpayers while serving as Nairobi governor and previously as Mumias Sugar managing director.
The anti-graft watchdog had waited patiently for two years as Dr Kidero’s 2016 petition challenging their probe was at the High Court. Dr Kidero had also, alongside activist Okiya Omtatah, challenged laws allowing the EACC to conduct criminal investigations.
They all argued that EACC should be limited to implementation of chapter six of the Constitution, which dictates how public officials should conduct themselves.
High Court judges George Odunga, Enoch Chacha Mwita and John Mativo dismissed the petitions in June this year, and EACC pounced on Dr Kidero.
FIVE BANK ACCOUNTS
They combed through his five bank accounts and went ahead to look at those operated by his wife, Susan Mboya, and the Evans Kidero Foundation.
Perusal of bank records showed that Dr Kidero had made cash deposits totalling Sh317 million between January 2011 and December 2015 in one of his personal accounts. The account had a Sh200 million balance at the time of EACC’s scrutiny this year.
On September 19, detective Shadrack Kaberia Mwenda, on authority from EACC, returned to the Chief Magistrate’s Court where he successfully got an order allowing him and other officers to enter Dr Kidero’s homes and offices and recover anything linked to the probe.
EACC officers spent nearly three hours collecting and docketing several documents and electronic devices they believe contain enough evidence to jail Dr Kidero and recover billions allegedly looted over the years.
As Dr Kidero witnessed the search, other detectives were combing his Westlands office and Kisumu home, with the same mission as their Nairobi counterparts. Early in the afternoon, Dr Kidero was arrested and escorted to Integrity Centre.
The anti-graft watchdog has now filed in court parts of the evidence they collected, as they fight off Dr Kidero’s attempts to block investigations into his colossal wealth portfolio.
Dr Kidero's arrest could be just one of several to come, if EACC’s statement in defence of its search on the former governor’s home is anything to go by.
“The search warrants obtained were not obtained in the furtherance of the ongoing criminal case number 32 of 2018: Republic vs Dr Kidero and 10 others. Case 32 is just one of the cases that are being investigated against Dr Kidero. The petitioners have not provided any evidence to demonstrate that the commission has in this case acted otherwise than in accordance with its constitutional and statutory mandate,” says EACC detective Mulki Abdi Umar in an affidavit.
The governor insists that he is an astute businessman. Other than earning Sh578 million in salaries between 1985 and 2012 from the private sector, Dr Kidero holds that he has received £2.7 million (Sh357 million) in rental income from various properties and £200,000 (Sh26.4 million) from overseas stocks investments.
“As early as the year 1994 I had learnt the art of saving and investing. I started to make several individual overseas investments in equities, which equities have continued to grow to date. As early as 1995 I had already started making investments of long-term share options and executive share options with Smithkline Beecham in a bid to grow my wealth,” Dr Kidero says in his new petition.
Documents filed by both parties indicate that the former Nairobi governor has an acquired taste for real estate, and was even in the process of setting up new luxury properties on Riverside Drive, Nyari and Gigiri. Building plans and City Hall approval request documents were seized during the search.
Dr Kidero’s property purchases started in 1995, with the acquisition of a piece of land in the prestigious Nyari suburb in Nairobi, which he later developed into a residential house. Currently the development could fetch at least Sh200 million, as per EACC’s court filings.
He later acquired two other neighbouring parcels of land and built houses on them. EACC says they are worth at least Sh400 million.
The EACC raid uncovered several lease agreements between Dr Kidero and the USA government, the UK government’s Department for International Development (DFID), the Swedish embassy, lawyer Kipkorir and several expatriates from across the world.
Details of the leased properties have, however, not been revealed in court yet.
HUNDRED OF ACRES
The former Nairobi governor mostly trades through five companies — Gem Investments, Gem Apartments, Gem Suites, Orro Limited and Argenti Limited — but also personally owns hundreds of acres of land worth billions.
Other than the land and buildings Dr Kidero owns locally which EACC say are worth at least Sh9 billion, documents found at his Westlands office show that the former Nairobi governor may have assets in Georgia, United States.
EACC found power of attorney documents pertaining to a property listed as 1850 Peachtree Avenue unit 1902, 30309 and unit 405 at 3286 Northside Parkway, all in Atlanta, Georgia. The documents are dated December 8, 2016.
An Internet search on the properties show that the properties could be apartments.
Detectives also found a “notice of right to cancel the Northside Parkway unit” but it is not yet clear whether Dr Kidero divested in the properties.
Dr Kidero’s home on Tchui Road in Muthaiga — a prestigious neighbourhood shared by the likes of retired President Mwai Kibaki — is worth Sh300 million, according to the EACC. He also has another mansion along Achieng Oneko Road in Kisumu that EACC says is worth at least Sh200 million.
The former Nairobi governor also owns two other mansions in Nyari worth at least Sh400 million, six apartments around the capital worth Sh160 million and two homes in Asumbi, Kisumu, worth Sh20 million. His companies are also listed as owners of several properties, mostly apartments, targeting high end clients in some of the most elite neighbourhoods Nairobi has to offer.
FLEET OF CARS
Gem Apartments Limited appears to be one of the best performers in Dr Kidero’s portfolio, boasting of serviced apartment blocks such as the Sh1 billion Muthaiga Heights and two others along Ngong Road’s Rose Avenue and State House Crescent worth Sh1.7 billion.
Other than Nairobi and Kisumu, Dr Kidero also owns two pieces of land in Naivasha. EACC has not indicated their acreage but says they are valued at Sh80 million, at the very least.
Dr Kidero’s fleet of 11 vehicles, mostly luxury brands, did not escape the eye of EACC detectives.
EACC does not list the specific models, but says the former businessman personally owns six Mercedes Benz limousines, three Land Rovers, two Peugeot saloons and one Toyota station wagon.
He also jointly owns one Peugeot saloon with Mumias Sugar, while another Toyota station wagon is registered to Gem Apartments Limited.