A state agency has dismissed claims of political witch-hunt by Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua as it seeks forfeiture of Sh200 million frozen in 2020. The money is suspected to be proceeds of crime.
In submissions filed in court, Assets Recovery Agency (ARA) says that claims by the legislator that he is being pursued due to his political links have no basis.
The agency further says Mr Gachagua has failed to discharge the burden of disputing that the money is proceeds of crime and his defence was an afterthought.
"We submit that the issue before this court is the legitimacy of the funds and whether the same can be forfeited to the state, the issue is not about political inclination or association," the agency submitted.
Mr Gachagua had claimed that the case was witch-hunt and intimidation over his political stand in the 2022 presidential race.
The MP said the petition was driven by the desire to intimidate, harass and punish him for the stand he has publicly taken over presidential succession and his political association beliefs.
He said that he believes that the forfeiture proceedings are not driven by a lawful, honest and sincere wish to have proceeds of crime forfeited or to prevent money laundering as contemplated by the law.
ARA has also dismissed claims that the funds were loans borrowed by his companies from each other and have been earning interest.
The MP had stated that he transferred the funds between his personal accounts and loaning some of his companies, which repaid the money with interest.
The agency says the claim of loans is a decoy for money laundering because there is no evidence to show that the companies borrowed from each other.
The MP allegedly received more than Sh12.5 billion through three accounts in Rafiki Microfinance Bank.
Proceeds of crime
The agency says Mr Gachagua failed to explain the source of the funds, making it clear that they are proceeds of crime.
“In this application, the 1st respondent (Gachagua) has not tendered any evidence demonstrating anything that entitles him to have lawfully acquired the funds in issue,” ARA said.
According to ARA, Mr Gachagua and his companies benefited from illegitimately sourced funds directly by depositing and keeping in their bank accounts and in the accounts of entities he fully controlled.
ARA says failing to forfeit the funds to the government will amount to granting permission to a party to benefit from proceeds of crime.
“The respondents have not rebutted this evidence and their allegations that the said funds were acquired from their business are false. It is our submission that the funds are proceeds of crime having been obtained illegally and are liable to be forfeited to the applicant under POCAMLA on behalf of the government,” ARA said.