DPP now wants Okemo, Gichuru arrested

July 6, 2011 5:07 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya Jul 6 – The Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko on Wednesday filed extradition proceedings in court and sought for the arrest of two Kenyans wanted by the Island of Jersey, UK to face fraud and money laundering charges.

The Island of Jersey authorities had sought Kenya\’s assistance in a letter dated May 16 which asked for the arrest and extradition of Nambale MP Chris Okemo and former Kenya Power and Lighting Company Chief Executive Sameul Gichuru.

The two are accused of abusing their offices by using proxy companies to squander public funds over 10 years ago, according to documents sent to the Kenyan government by the bailiff and Chief Justice of the Island of Jersey, Channel Islands, UK.

In total, Messrs Okemo and Gichuru are accused of having received some Sh902 million in kickbacks to award tenders between 1999 and 2002.

"I have no objection to the said request for surrender of the above named fugitives," Mr Tobiko said in documents filed in court on Wednesday.

The documents were placed before the Chief Magistrate at the Milimani courts.

"I authorise that you proceed and issue a warrant for the arrest and detention of the said fugitives in accordance with Section 8 of the aforementioned act [Section 7 (1) of the Extradition (Commonwealth Countries) Act Chapter 77 Laws of Kenya."

The magistrate will hear the matter and determine whether to issue the warrants on Tuesday next week.

The decision by Mr Tobiko on Wednesday came a day after the British High Commissioner to Kenya Rob Macaire met Attorney General Amos Wako to demand hasty extradition of the two.

"On receipt of a joint report prepared by officers from the DPP and Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC) on the request by the Island of Jersey for the extradition of Okemo and Gichuru and being satisfied that the request meets all the legal and evidential requirements, the DPP gave authority for the request to proceed," an earlier statement from the DPP\’s office said.

Mr Okemo and Mr Gichuru are accused of abusing their offices by using proxy companies to squander public funds over 10 years ago, according to documents sent to the Kenyan government by the bailiff and Chief Justice of the Island of Jersey.

Mr Okemo served as Energy Minister between 1999 and 2001 before he was moved to the Finance docket where he served between 2001 and 2003.

Mr Gichuru served as the Managing Director of KPLC between 1983 and 2003.

On Tuesday, Mr Macaire said that there was a strong case against the two individuals and that the authorities were determined to have them bundled out of Kenya to face the charges.

"We are reiterating that the Jersey authorities are extremely serious about these extradition cases. This is not a small issue for Jersey, we want to see this case taken seriously," Mr Macaire told journalists after a meeting with Attorney General Amos Wako at Sheria House.

"We have put that message very strongly to the AG and that the audio evidence and legal arguments by Jersey authorities have been put forward to have this case taken forward," he added.

The two had moved to court to challenge the legal basis of the case against them, with Mr Okemo arguing that the allegations of money laundering were not a crime in Kenya at the time it is alleged to have been committed.

A Nairobi court however dismissed the case by Mr Okemo and Mr Gichuru terming it premature, since no extradition proceedings had commenced at the time they filed the suit.

"Legal authorities in Jersey are extremely confident that the extradition is absolutely valid and that crimes were committed and that if there are any arguments about the legality of the case then the right place to hear them is the courts in Jersey," the envoy said of the move to challenge the extradition through courts in Kenya.

He said Mr Wako did not give any undertaking on how long it would take before Kenya handed over the two individuals but only said that "this is an issue he is taking very, very seriously."

When asked by journalists the nature of discussion with the British High Commissioner, Mr Wako said he could not give an undertaking about when the extraditions would take place "because this is not a political process."

"Extradition matters are a judicial process, we will have to wait for the court process, and secondly this is not an issue under my office because it falls under the jurisdiction of the Directorate of Public Prosecutions which is independent," he said.

Documents sent from the Jersey Islands to the Kenyan authorities stated that the two individuals were urgently required there to face charges of money laundering and fraud.

"This request is to be treated as a formal request for provisional arrest, in conformity with national laws and/or the applicable bilateral and multilateral treaties," a judicial decision sent to Kenya from the UK states in part.

It adds: "Assurances are given that extradition will be sought upon arrest of the person, in conformity with national laws and/or the applicable bilateral and multilateral treaties."

The judicial decision also referred to as an arrest warrant states that extensive investigations were carried out on corruption and money-laundering related activities by the two persons and a decision reached to have them arrested, extradited and charged in accordance with the UK and Kenyan laws.

"It has been decided that Mr Gichuru be charged with offences contrary to Article 34 of the Proceeds of Crime (Jersey) Law 1999 (POC) by laundering his own proceeds as well as Article 32 of the same law by laundering the funds for Okemo," it states.

As to the Article 34 offence, it states Mr Gichuru will be charged with concealing his proceeds of crime and transferring his proceeds of crime, both of which are made offences by that article."

"The proceeds of crime with respect to these offences are the proceeds of Mr Gichuru\’s corruption, misconduct in public office and fraud," it went and added that "In relation to Article 32 offence, Gichuru will be charged with facilitating Okemo\’s retention of his (Okemo\’s) proceeds of crime."

"The proceeds of crime with respect to the article 32 offence are the proceeds of Mr Okemo\’s corruption, misconduct in public office and fraud."

The judicial decision identified Messers Okemo and Gichuru as "fugitives wanted for prosecution."

The document outlines various alleged corrupt tenders allegedly influenced by the two for their own benefits.

"Most of this money came from parties which can be shown to have contracted with KPLC," part of the documents in our possession state.

The two were not readily available for comment over the allegations levelled against them.

"In one instance, the bribe payer, the contractor of KPLC frankly refers to Mr Gichuru as their agent," it states. "Another company noted in an email that the award of the KPLC contract involved payment to its chief executive Sam Gichuru."

Witness accounts

Witnesses, the court document states, have explained that it was considered that the payments to Mr Gichuru had to be made if they wanted to work for KPLC.

Mr Gichuru is also accused of having used a Gibraltarian company, Arus Management Services, to layer payments from a company called Windward.

In particular, the documents state that most of the payments to Mr Okemo by Windward were made via the company\’s bank account in Gibraltar, despite the fact that both Okemo and Windward banked at the same institution in Jersey.

"The result of these routing transfers, for which Arus Management Services took a fee of about 2percent of the transfers, was that the recipients of the money were distanced both from Windward and the contractors that paid windward."

This, the court concludes "is a classic money laundering technique, which provides evidence, for example that payments to Okemo effected in this way represented proceeds of criminal conduct. There is no other reason for his payments to be routed in this fashion, at that expense."

Both Mr Okemo and Mr Gichuru having been public officers at the time, the court decreed "the receipt of these bribes was not only greedy and dishonest, but amounted to criminal offences involving bribes and constituted misconduct in a public office."

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