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How MP Gachagua moved Sh12 billion in just seven years

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On the list of wealthy industrialists, Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua hardly features. His billionaire status has been baffling state agencies, which are now seeking to understand how the Mt Kenya politician made his fortune.

The Assets Recovery Agency (ARA) is investigating how Sh12.5 billion passed through Mr Gachagua’s three accounts for seven years and whether money laundering was involved.

Before the agency moved in, the MP allegedly withdrew Sh7.3 billion, disbursed it to various companies and invested a portion in some assets. As a result, the agency could only locate Sh5.2 billion.

The three accounts are being held at Rafiki Micro Finance and ARA has written to the bank seeking clarification on the money trail.

In one of the accounts, the MP allegedly received Sh5.83 billion and withdrew Sh5.831 billion, leaving a balance of Sh773,000.

In the second, a fixed deposit account, he allegedly received a total of Sh827 million and Sh792.9 million left the account, leaving a balance of Sh35 million. It is this money trail that is exciting ARA investigators.

Secure tenders

Although Mr Gachagua is a director and shareholder of several companies, which he has used to secure tenders from state agencies, parastatals and county governments, ARA says it wants to establish whether he used them to launder money.

Mr Gachagua may, in the interim, lose Sh200 million, which have since been frozen, to the state if an application by ARA goes through.

 In the third, also a fixed deposit account, the MP is alleged to have received Sh5.87 billion and Sh705 million was withdrawn, leaving a balance of Sh165 million when the account was frozen in May.

Court documents showed that Mr Gachagua received a total of Sh347 million from several companies, including Sh112 million from Encarta Diagnostics, Sh7.5 million from Wamunyoro Investments, Sh58 million from Rapid Medical Supplies and Sh103 million from Specific Supplies.

Business associate

Some of the money was later transferred to the two fixed deposit accounts while he wired Sh12.9 million to his spouse Dorcas and Sh9 million to Toyota Kenya and Taitan Motolink.

The agency investigated a total of 33 accounts associated with the MP and his companies, including Wamunyoro Investments Ltd, Crystal Kenya Ltd, Machine Centre, Technical Supplies and Services Ltd, Skytop Agencies and Specific Supplies Ltd.

The agency said Mr Gachagua and an associate identified as Anne Kimemia, who traded as Jenne Enterprises, were involved in a complex money laundering scheme in collusion with his companies.

Some of the funds were from Kwale and Bungoma counties, which paid Sh112.4 million to Encarta Diagnostics.

Development funds

Other payments were made from Ministry of Lands (Kenya Informal Settlements Programme), state department for Special Planning, Ministry of Health, Mathira Constituency development funds, Nyeri county government and the National Irrigation Board.

The agency says that on July 15, 2015, Jenne Enterprises received Sh30 million from Rafiki disguised as loan disbursement.

But on the same day, the firm wired Sh28.5 million to Wamunyoro Investment, where Mr Gachagua is a director and shareholder. The documents show Jenne Enterprises also transferred Sh10 million to Wamunyororo Investment on April 3, 2017.

The following day, the same firm wired another Sh5 million to Mr Rigathi’s personal account.

Former District Officer

 “There are reasonable grounds to believe that the said accounts received and are holding funds, which are believed to be proceeds of crime and the accounts were used to execute a complex money laundering scheme in an effort designed to conceal, disguise and hide the nature, source, movement and disposition of the funds,” the petition stated.

The agency stated that within the said period, there were massive suspicious cash withdrawals, inter and intra-bank transfers from other accounts to the accounts under investigations and other banks accounts owned by Mr Gachagua in suspicious complex money laundering schemes.

The agency said they received information in March this year of suspected complex money laundering schemes and proceeds of crime.

The agency opened an inquiry and subsequently applied for and was issued with warrants to investigate the accounts.

Further, the documents stated that after being transferred to companies or businesses entities, the funds were ultimately moved to a fixed deposit account, which is the MP’s personal accounts.

A key ally of Deputy President William Ruto, Mr Gachagua is arguably one of the richest MPs in Mt Kenya and follows in the footsteps of his brother, former Nyeri Governor Nderitu Gachagua, who died in February 2017.

A former student leader at the University of Nairobi, he was a close ally of former President Daniel Moi.

As a District Officer in Kiambaa, Mr Gachagua kept the opposition on its toes — if they insulted the President.

At one point, Mr Gachagua was Uhuru Kenyatta’s personal assistant when he was the Local Government minister.

by Nation.co.ke

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Education

Duo gives libraries vital facelift

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Public libraries are vital as storehouse of knowledge; they mould character of cities. Yet, most public libraries are in dilapidated conditions and require a facelift.

At the end of 2018, author Wanjiru Koinange and publisher Angela Wacuka, founders of Book Bunk, conducted a research and found out that contrary to popular opinion that Kenyan’s don’t read, 300 people were walking in and out of public libraries every single day to use them. For this reason, three years ago, they set up Book Bunk to give public libraries a new lease of life after decades of neglect.

“Our mission is to restore public libraries, to convert them not just from a physical perspective but also from a social and experiential perspective. In a sense, what are other people doing in their spaces, what

are they getting access to, what are they reading and what kind of services are in public that we can bring to the libraries,” starts Wanjiru.

They have three projects, with Macmillan Memorial Library as the flagship and others in Makadara and Kaloleni in Nairobi. Two years before the renovations, the duo spent time doing a lot of programming work, events and research, and when the funds came, they began physical restoration, starting with Kaloleni.

However, Covid-19 happened and with it came new rules and regulations on how construction work should continue. At that point, the two had already hired 28 people as casual labourers for the project. Luckily, by the time the new regulations were set, they had already done the bulk of renovation and all that was left was just painting and tiling, which could be done by fewer staff members.

“It didn’t feel right for them to stop because they were relying on the cash to survive. We began looking at how they could space out work, even though it would take longer, but it meant that we could still keep them. They were able to do that and currently they have completed the renovation of first branch,” she says Though risky, they used local people to work on the project to make them feel part and parcel of it. Since land grabbing is prevalent in these areas, most locals look at those who walk in with projects suspiciously, thus educating them on the project’s significance was not a walk in the park.

“It wasn’t a one day or week event to convince people of our intention. We had to go there time and again trying to sell the idea to them that public spaces can be beautiful and functional whether they are in Runda or Kaloleni,” says Wanjiru.

The Kaloleni project is now complete and the community is vigilant in safeguarding it and ensuring that there is no vandalism.

Working with the government has been a challenge and a bonus for the pair. A challenge because bureaucracy in these institutions makes things drag than they would if handled by a private entity. Nevertheless, meeting kind people in offices made it easier for them navigate things that could have take a long time to deal with. The second challenge has been financing their project.

Operational funding “Operational funding is our greatest challenge. It’s shocking to me that in this day and age, people still expect to have their

names on the building when they support a project without even catering for salaries of people who do the work. Wacuka and I struggle to find cash to pay our people’s salaries, to give the people committed to the project good life and not have to worry about anything. It breaks my heart all the time because we don’t struggle to find money for events or research, yer for salaries, it is a struggle,” she explains.

The pandemic has made the two think of future libraries, which is leaning towards being more technological.

“We are currently creating a framework on what digital adoption will look like. The Makadara Library is full of university students and teenagers, which will force us go digital because young people in that age bracket are using technology. This means we must have plans for high speed internet, tablets and we must also have a place where people can experiment with coding; that’s the future of libraries. I think libraries as public spaces needs to evolve into more of community centres instead of rooms full of books. This evolution cannot ignore tech or it’s bound to fail,” she adds.

With Macmillan, they are trying to Africanise the library.

Library and culture “When the Macmillan Library was opened in 1931, black people weren’t allowed in. Presently, if you look at the collection, you’ll realise the content was not meant for Kenyans. On the other hand, the library in Kaloleni is such a significant one in our history, but no one talks about. The building became the unofficial parliament before it was even set up,” she says.

The pair has been trying to reconnect libraries with cultures and to have African literature and art represented.

Understanding the youths are idle during this pandemic and that going to libraries has been prohibited due to health risks at the moment, the organisation has also been trying to take the library to the local’s homes.

“We hired people to find out how many children live in every single estate and in Kaloleni, we found out that they were about 190 children. We appealed to our partners and friends for colouring books, toys and novels and walked around giving the kids in their homes,” she recalls So far, Kaloleni was just a pilot project in as far as the book donation drive was concerned. They plan to do this in Makadara as well.

“The future is more libraries and we want to create a template, which can be replicated in as many libraries as possible. We want to create a team in whatever spaces that we can who can carry out the work and have more libraries than bars,” she says in conclusion.

FACTS
• Wanjiru is a writer and has recently released a book, Havoc of Choice.

• Angela Wacuka was the director of Kwani Trust for around eight years and that’s when she met Wanjiru and the two became friends. Wanjiru started assisting Wacuka manage her events and that’s how their work relationship was borne.

• While Wanjiru is good at management and administration, Wacuka is an incredible networker and communicator.

• They have sessions where they ask each other how they are doing. They have also a small staff who check on them and give their expertise instead of doing it all on their own.

BY PD.CO.KE

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Health

Why I chose to have my breast cut off

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Lucy Njeri vividly recalls the horrors she underwent on the day she received the test results showing she had breast cancer.

“It took me by surprise,” Lucy says. “Emotionally, I went down. I tried to clear my tears, since I was still in the office, but immediately I left the gate, I broke down and cried. I was all by myself. I was not ready for it.”

The result indicated she had ductal carcinoma [cancer that starts in cells that line the milk ducts), grade 1. The news hit her like a ton of bricks. And so she sat at the gate to her workplace, wrapped in colossal agony, struggling to come to terms with her new, sorry predicament. She was still nursing emotional bruises sustained by her mothers lengthy battle with throat cancer. Now here she was, physically sick from a similarly debilitating malady.

Just then, a complete stranger, touched by the sight of a lonesome lady crying her heart out, approached to help.

“This passer-by tapped my back and asked me, ‘is it okay’? I shook my head, and gave her my results. She read and told me it was go ing to be okay. She asked if she could call my mum. I told her no, she cannot call anyone in my family, since everyone was sick emotionally,” she explains.

Thus had begun Lucy’s long battle with breast cancer, a journey which, for many people, is beset with uncertainties and excruciating consequences on a person’s material and emotional well being. For Lucy at least, she had a shoulder to lean on right from the onset, and this assuaged pangs of grief that had belligerently gripped the mother of three on that fateful day.

Lucy’s newly found comforter cut short her journey, offered to buy her a meal and they walked to a nearby restaurant. But Lucy couldn’t eat. She cried her heart out the whole afternoon. She later gave the Samaritan the phone contact of one of her relatives, who came to pick her up.

“At night, I could not digest what I had read”, Lucy narrates, fighting back tears. “The next thing in my mind was committing suicide. I had seen anguish and pain my mum was going through. I was not ready for it.”

As luck would have it, Lucy wouldn’t hang herself that night. She didn’t find a place to hang herself in the house. But she cried the whole night.

On waking up the next morning, her uncle candidly advised her to brace for the new reality. It was time to summon her inner strength, and face her condition head-on.

“My uncle told me to face the lion, and fight it,” she adds. The words served to buoy her through the turmoil. But another calamity lay ahead – nurses were on strike, and her hospital couldn’t take her in. Her doctor advised her to seek surgery elsewhere. After weighing her options, Lucy settled on Kenyatta National Hospital, where she was booked for surgery.

“I had my breast removed,” she says.

Just before the mastectomy, a medic had counselled Lucy to be positive about the consequences. There are people without breasts out there, the medic told her. They are surviving, and they’re okay. So, there is nothing to worry about. Life has to go on.

With these words, Lucy mustered the courage to go through it. And she bubbles with joy, noting hers was a choice between living with one breast or dying to maintain the image. She chose life.

“I have seen people who resist treatment,
who say their breast(s) cannot be removed, and we lose them. I’d rather not have the breast, and be alive. I am lucky to have one. I have seen people who don’t have both, and they’re still there. Since then, I look at life from a different perspective”.

Thankfully, Lucy’s NHIF covered her treatment. This included six chemotherapies, radiotherapy, follow-up treatment and hormonal therapy.

Constant support This was a tough time for Lucy’s three children, who underwent manifold emotional excursions in these trying moments. They wondered at spike in visitors to their home. They’d been told their mother was sick, but couldn’t quite relate with the sickness. Lucy requested help from a friend who broke down the news to her children, while assuring them that mum would be okay. She recalls the news was particularly devastating to her daughter.

Now a fully recovered and ebullient cancer survivor, Lucy recounts her journey through the malaise with appreciation for galaxy of magnanimous supporters who held her hand through the predicament.

Right from the benevolent stranger who took her time to comfort Lucy in her low moments at the gate, to her circle of friends that helped her raise money for biopsy, her relatives, her husband and children, and neighbours, some of who would do her laundry, look after her children and even provided foodstuff and paid house rent in the bleak moments. There was even a matatu crew that would wait for her early in the morning on the days she went for treatment. And of tremendous importance to her journey, have been the healthcare providers who handled her condition.

“There are people you can’t even pay,” Lucy says. “I got a lot of help from neighbours and friends and even strangers.”

Her journey encapsulates the importance of a support network in the healing process of a breast cancer patient. As the world celebrates the Breast Cancer Awareness month, a call is made upon everyone to lend a helping hand and a supportive shoulder for those caught up in the throes of this exacting malady, a malady that deals long-lasting blows on the purses and hearts of hundreds of households it afflicts.

by PD.co.ke

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Lifestyle

VIDEO: Chopper crash, Tunai pilot speaks out

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The pilot of the helicopter that crash-landed in Narok County with Governor Samuel ole Tunai aboard has blamed the accident on bad weather and high altitude.

Governor Tunai, Narok East MP Lemanken Aramat and their aides cheated death on Saturday when their chopper, hired from the Mara Elephant Project, had an accident in Olkipejus village at about 4.30pm.

“There was no mechanical problem. Nobody was injured as all of us came out well. Things just happened in a blink of an eye and that is it,” said the pilot, Marc Goss, yesterday. “I have finished writing the full report on the crash and a team of investigators has instructed me not to talk to the media,” he added.

Type-Robinson 44

The chopper, Type-Robinson 44, was to drop the governor in Narok town but failed to take off in five attempts. Mr Tunai was admitted to Aga Khan Hospital in Nairobi although an official from the county government said he was out of danger. The governor was leaving the burial of Mzee Tompo ole Sasai in Melili.

The Kenya Civil Aviation Authority has launched a probe into the accident. “The aircraft investigation department of the ministry of Transport Infrastructure, Housing, Urban Development and Public works has already initiated the investigation and will inform the public once the investigations are concluded,” said KCA Director-General, Captain Gilbert Kabage.

Video footage showing the final moments to the crash depict a clear sky and normal wind currents blowing through the vast wheat fields. The wreckage of the chopper Registration Number 5Y-MEP lay on the field near Olkipejus village, with its tail section cut off from the main body.

The chopper is a regular in the Mara region whenever elephants invade human settlements. Mr Goss is the MEP chief executive, which is involved in driving elephants away from human settlements, real time response to incidents of poaching and wildlife injuries in the Mara and surrounding conservancies.

Human settlements

They have been using the chopper since 2015 and have expanded its operation area for rapid response to poaching, injured wildlife and conflict areas in the 4,000-square-kilometre region.

 “It supports our monitoring efforts by marking the collaring of risk elephants to be safer for both the animals and support team. It also helps us collect important data, like herd size and health,” said Mr Goss.

Despite having plans of procuring another chopper, the accident is a big blow to the project with elephants facing eminent danger from poachers, he added.

“Although MEP has rangers on ground, the helicopter provides them with aerial support in difficult human-elephant conflict situations. We are able to locate the animals faster and provide a much-needed distraction from the elephant while our rangers on the ground guide them to safety,” Mr Goss said.

BY Nation.co.ke

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