Sh1.5b city land scam claims its first casualties - Daily Nation

2 arrested, 30 under probe over Sh1.5b land fraud

Friday July 20 2018

Francis Mburu

Businessman Francis Mburu. An affidavit has been filed in a case in which the EACC has opposed plans to stop civil or criminal proceedings in relation to the Ruaraka land, saying it would defeat the investigations being carried out by the commission. PHOTO | FILE| NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By STELLA CHERONO
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About 30 people who include lawyers, bankers, government officials and family members of those involved in the dubious sale of public land in Ruaraka, are being investigated over their role in the Sh1.5 billion scandal.

Sources told the Nation that more arrests are expected after the Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission (EACC) sleuths on Thursday arrested businessmen Francis Mburu and John Mutwiri in Karen and Kileleshwa, respectively. They also arrested Mr Mburu’s two sons Justin Sam and Mark.

The officers raided the homes of Mr Mburu and Mr Mutwiri at dawn, confiscating documents, computers and cash in millions of shillings. Mr Mutwiri is the director of Champions Kenya Limited, through which the money was distributed to perpetrators of the scam.

Mr Mburu was picked up from the EACC at 8pm by a black Toyota Land Cruiser with a concealed number plate.

DUBIOUS PAYMENTS

Detectives are seeking to unearth the dubious payment of Sh1.5 billion in the Ruaraka land transactions.

The commission and the Asset Recovery Agency, it is said, have seized properties belonging to the people suspected to have been involved.

They include 28 top-of-the-range vehicles found in the compounds of the Mburus in Lavington and Karen homes.

EACC also revealed that bank accounts belonging to them were frozen as investigations continue.

MONEY TRANSFERS

The Directorate of Criminal Investigations is investigating more than 24 entities which received portions of the money, among them forex bureaus, businessmen, lawyers and company directors.

A total of Sh261 million was withdrawn in cash while Sh66 million was paid out in cheques to recipients.

The National Land Commission (NLC) paid Sh1.5 billion to Whispering Palms Estate's account at Barclays Bank, which in turn paid Champions Kenya Limited owned by Mr Mutwiri a total of Sh930 million.

Within three days, Champions Kenya Limited had paid a total of Sh649 million to 16 entities, among them a forex bureau, insurance companies, law firms and logistics companies.

Documents acquired by the Nation also indicated that Champions Kenya Limited withdrew a total of Sh260 million in the three days between January 31 and February 2.

COURT ORDER

After the transactions, several banks ordered the accounts frozen, but strangely the owners obtained court orders for them to be unfrozen.

The Whispering Palms Estate then paid 10 individuals, among them, the two sons of Mr Mburu.

A source at EACC also said a magistrate who ordered the unfreezing of the accounts on February 8, was under scrutiny.

The commission is seeking to find out why and on whose behalf the law firms were receiving money and for what.

EACC believes that Mr Mburu broke the law in the transactions concerning the Ruaraka Land.

Investigators are seeking to establish whether Afrison Import Export Ltd and Huelands Ltd believed to be the owners of the land and officials from the National Treasury and Ministry of Education colluded to defraud taxpayers.

SONKO CLAIM

Afrison is said to have already surrendered to the government the land for the building of a public school.

Governor Mike Sonko on Wednesday told a Senate committee that the land belongs to the public. If this is the case, then it means that the government through the NLC, bought its own land.

NLC chairman Mohammad Swazuri, in a letter dated September 13, 2016, to the then Education CS, Dr Fred Matiang’i, said the commission had carried out a ground inspection and verified that there existed two schools.

Activist Okiya Omtatah and Nyakina Wycliffe Gisembe had moved to court seeking orders to stop any transactions concerning the land.

The court on December 15, 2016 made orders prohibiting Afrison, Huelands, the Kenya Urban Roads Authority, the NLC, the Attorney General and the Ministry of Housing from transacting on the land.

The court ordered that Afrison and Hueland should not receive further payments directly or through their agent Almasi Limited pending hearing of the matter.