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Governor in graft case gets partial access to blocked bank accounts

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Governor in graft case gets partial access to blocked bank accounts

Mr Moses Lenolkulal. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Samburu Governor Moses Lenolkulal has convinced the High Court to lift orders freezing two of his KCB accounts blocked after he was charged in May with corruption and unlawful acquisition of public property.

Justice John Onyiego said there was nothing linking the two accounts to the money alleged to have been irregularly paid to a company associated with Mr Lenolkulal by the county government.

The judge, however, declined to unfreeze two other accounts, saying that payment vouchers and bank statements obtained by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission had linked payments from the county to these accounts.

He said the EACC had reasons to be apprehensive that the money in the accounts might be withdrawn or transferred.

While freezing the four accounts in April, the anti-graft body said it believed the funds were from county tenders issued to firms linked to the governor.

The commission feared the money might be transferred or withdrawn amid ongoing investigations with the EACC arguing that there was a need to freeze the accounts, pending a petition for forfeiture.

Evidence tabled in court showed that about Sh132.6 million had passed through the four accounts, yet the governor’s earnings from his job totalled to Sh38.1 million. The court heard that Mr Lenolkulal had not sufficiently explained how he earned the money.

The commission further said the county government is suspected to have lost Sh673 million through corrupt deals and several contractors gave county officials bribes to the tune of Sh86 million to influence award of tenders.

The EACC further said there was sufficient evidence to show that the flow of funds into Oryx Service Station, which is associated with Mr Lenolkulal, from the county government had later been withdrawn by the county boss or transferred to the said accounts.

Mr Lenolkulal went back to court, arguing that he was not afforded time to give his side of the story. He said the order was unreasonable and draconian and that the money was obtained through legal and honest business dealings, not through corruption as alleged.

The judge partly agreed with him, saying that he was not aware of any law or requirement barring a public officer from transacting with the national or county government, unless it is shown that there is a conflict of interest.

The judge said the EACC has to prove that the amounts earned were as a result of conflict of interest.

“The commission cannot be casually allowed to walk into court with scanty information or evidence and seek to generally attach anything and everything in the name of a suspect being under investigations, based on a single suspicious financial transaction of dealing,” he said.

The commission said it is investigating allegations of corruption and economic crimes, conflict of interest among contractors and officials of the Samburu County Government, where about Sh1.6 billion is suspected to have been embezzled between January 1, 2013 and December 31, 2018.

The governor has denied corruption charges and was released on bond.

Oryx Service Station is alleged to have supplied fuel to the county between 2014 and 2019 and that Mr Lenolkulal and the company received in excess of Sh80.7 million for provision of petrol and diesel.



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