Africa-Press – Kenya. Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission has been given 90 days to file responses in a case in which the agency is seeking to recover Sh1.2 billion from a Lands ministry official.
The High Court has has already frozen assets worth Sh1,206,851,274 belonging to Nicholas Owino, a senior assistant director for valuation at the Ministry of Lands.
The orders by Justice Esther Maina followed a recovery suit filed by the EACC on June 15, 2022, and an injunction application thereafter.
The court also ordered the defendant to deliver vehicles registered to his wife and their logbooks to the EACC within seven days.
EACC sued Owino, his wife Violet Terry Muthoni, his brother Richard Omondi, and two companies linked to them; Ternic Valuers Limited and Ternic Enterprises Limited.
The agency wants the amount forfeited to the government, as it is believed to be proceeds of corruption.
The anti-graft agency says Owino has unexplained assets valued at Sh1.2 billion against his legitimate salary that would amount to Sh6.3 million.
The assets comprise land, motor vehicles and money transacted through bank accounts. The breakdown includes Sh497,393,274 transacted through banks and M-Pesa.
There is also Sh694,670,000 worth of properties and cars valued at Sh10.5 million. The vehicles include a BMW, Volkswagen and a Toyota Landcruiser.
The commission wants the court to order an auction of all the three cars.
On Tuesday when the matter came up for directions, Owino’s lawyers said they had supplied the required affidavits to EACC.
But the matter could not proceed as lawyers acting on behalf of the anti-graft agency sought 90 days to go through the voluminous affidavits that Owino presented.
“The investigating officer has to go through all the annexures for verification and confirmation. We also need leave to put in further affidavits,” EACC said.
They said the affidavits were served upon them hours to the court date.
Justice Maina allowed the request and set a further mention date for February 15.
EACC filed the suit against Owino after investigations following a report that the official had amassed unexplained wealth during his time as a public officer from January 2003 to November 2018.
Investigations showed he signed contracts with private entities for services he was mandated and paid to undertake.
“He is reasonably suspected of corrupt conduct by using privileged official information at the ministry for financial gain through companies associated with him, thus compromising his public or official duties in favour of his personal interests,” EACC said.
The agency further claimed Owino used his co-accused to hide the money acquired.
EACC wants the court to allow a licensed auctioneer to seize and sell by way of public auction all the cars owned by Owino and deposit the money in the agency’s accounts.
The properties that are to be repossessed from the defendant include his Karen residence valued at Sh80 million, apartments in Thome estate valued at Sh130 million, plots in Parklands valued at Sh100 million and a commercial building along the Kisumu-Busia road valued at Sh190 million.
Other properties include two apartments in Kisumu, one valued at Sh53 million and another at Sh55.5 million, a five-bedroom house in Mirema valued at Sh23 million and a house in Kisumu valued at Sh15 million.
The agency also claims Owino used his wife and brother as conduits to receive, hold or otherwise conceal funds acquired in the course of or as a result of his corrupt conduct.
Owino was first employed at the Ministry of Lands in 1996 as a valuer and promoted 16 years later in 2012 to principal valuer.