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Kenya: Agency moves to seize Sh32m from ex-PS Lillian Omollo

The Assets Recovery Agency (ARA) is seeking to seize Sh32.9 million it believes former Youth and Gender Affairs Principal Secretary Lillian Omollo stashed in 10 bank accounts registered in the name of three companies and her children.

The accounts have been frozen since October 29, and ARA wants the High Court to declare the funds forfeited to the State, saying they are the proceeds of crime.

Ms Omollo is among 35 people charged with the theft of Sh468 million from the National Youth Service (NYS) through a scheme that saw dubious firms paid for delivering “air”.

The Sh468 million charge is one of two sets of cases, as detectives try to find out how Sh8 billion was looted from the NYS.

TEN ACCOUNTS

Prosecutors have filed documents in court alleging the existence of an elaborate scheme involving all levels of staff.

Fictitious invoices would be presented to the NYS with the help of junior staff, and payments quickly approved by senior managers and Ms Omollo, according to DCI detectives and DPP Noordin Haji.

Ms Omollo was appointed PS for Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs on December 18, 2015. A month later, the 10 bank accounts started receiving large amounts of money, which detectives now say she intended to launder.

ARA boss Muthoni Kimani told the Senate’s Justice and Legal Affairs Committee that the agency has so far frozen Sh300 million held in accounts owned and operated by suspects in the NYS case.

It has also blocked transactions involving land, cars and other assets worth Sh2 billion, believed to be proceeds of the second NYS looting scam.

In the first round, flagged in 2015, the NYS is believed to have lost over Sh2 billion. It was then headed by Mr Nelson Githinji, and was under the Devolution ministry, then headed by current Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru.

Mr Fredrick Musyoki, a police sergeant attached to the ARA, says investigations show that the funds in Ms Omollo’s accounts are from the NYS scam and should be surrendered to the government to help recover taxpayers’ money.

Neither Ms Omollo nor her three children have responded to the ARA’s application, filed on Monday. The three companies — Lidi Holdings Ltd, Lidi Estates Ltd and Sahara Consultants — have not responded either.

The accounts ARA is targeting at Equity Bank hold a combined Sh14.769 million, while the ones at DTB have Sh18.205 million.

“The investigations conducted by the agency established that the funds are from illegitimate sources and part of the funds stolen from the NYS acquired by the respondents and deposited in the accounts owned, managed and run by Ms Omollo.

It is in the public interest that the orders sought be granted and the suspect funds be forfeited to the State and transferred to the ARA and any other ground that may be adduced during the hearing of the application,” Mr Musyoki said.

‘SERIOUS FARMING’

ARA notes that most of the money was deposited in batches of Sh900,000, and in some instances, into three different accounts on the same day to beat Central Bank of Kenya regulations, which require financial institutions to report any transactions above Sh1 million.

Besides, Section 44 of the Proceeds of Crime and Anti-Money Laundering Act (POCAMLA) requires financial institutions to report to the authorities any suspicious activities such as sudden unexplained money transfers.

Documents filed in court show that the amounts were deposited between January 2016 and March 2018. Following her alleged involvement in the NYS case, Ms Omollo was sacked and replaced with Mr Francis Owino.

Mr Musyoki held a meeting with Ms Omollo and her husband, Mr Dick Achieng’ Oneko on October 25, during which Mr Oneko insisted that he had given her the money. He said it was from the family’s joint farming business in Siaya.

Asked why they sold the produce in Siaya and carried the money all the way to Nairobi instead of depositing it in the county, Ms Omollo said they would keep it in a safe in Nairobi before depositing it.

They claimed to have taken up serious farming at their ancestral home in Bondo five years ago. Mr Oneko said he would supplement their income with earnings from a consultancy firm, Nile International.

But they could not produce any proof for their claims.

By Daily Nation

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