Nairobi County development control officer Wilson Nashon Kanani, his family and companies are worth at least Sh100 million if their bank balances, prime land, homes and luxury automobiles are added up.
In a country where only 2.5 per cent of registered bank accounts have deposits of more than Sh100,000, Mr Kanani’s two underage children have Sh3.56 million in their account.
This could be because he is also an astute businessman or has his hands in the taxpayers’ cookie jar – the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) believes it is the latter.
Yesterday, the anti-corruption division of the High Court in Nairobi froze 11 bank accounts owned by Mr Kanani and his family members following an application by the EACC.
Justice Esther Maina has also barred Mr Kanani and his family from disposing of two Mercedes Benz vehicles registered to him.
Every end-month, Mr Kanani receives Sh55,866.75 as salary from City Hall, which employs him to run after advertising companies to make sure their billboards and other signage do not violate national and county laws.
While most people on similar pay ride in matatus, Mr Kanani moves around the city in sleek Mercedes Benz models and has a lifestyle most of his bosses can only dream of. He also owns a townhouse in Phenom Estate, Lang’ata, a residential house and rental property in Busia, an apartment in Lang’ata’s NHC estate and an apartment in Kahawa.
Mr Kanani and two business associates make about Sh5.6 million each month from one of Nairobi’s most popular nightclubs, 1824.
Two years ago, 1824, through its parent company Seventeen Forty-Nine Ltd, sought court orders to allow it to resume operations amid the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns. In its pleadings, the club said it had lost more than Sh45 million in the eight months of night curfew and pub closures.
The nightclub attracted controversy after video footage of revellers enjoying themselves while violating mandatory Covid-19 protocols emerged on social media. It was then shut down.
Records from the Business Registration Service seen by the Nation indicate that Mr Kanani owns 1,000 shares in Seventeen Forty Nine Ltd, and by extension, 1824. His co-owners Biko Ochieng Gwendo and George Avugwi Lutta have a similar amount of shares. The company was incorporated on August 25, 2014.
While the nightclub may sound like a solid cover for Mr Kanani’s riches and lavish lifestyle, the EACC believes that the City Hall worker has been receiving bribes and kickbacks from contractors.
If detectives prove their claim in court, the assets recovery process could throw into a spin one of the centrepieces of Nairobi’s nightlife.
The EACC has filed forfeiture proceedings against Mr Kanani, his family and four companies he owns in a bid to recover millions of shillings. The companies are Wilman Auto Invests, Willy Walla International Ltd, Regineez Enterprises Ltd and Wilcoreg Ltd.
The anti-corruption watchdog argues in court papers that some of Mr Kanani’s companies are doing business with Nairobi County, a conflict of interest if proven. The EACC has not specified which of the companies it suspects is a City Hall contractor, but the Nation has established that Wilcoreg Ltd is one of the firms in the National Assembly’s pool of stationery suppliers.
Wilcoreg is also in Siaya County’s pool of firms that can be contracted to drill boreholes, build dams, water pans, roads and bridges.
In total, five bank accounts owned by Mr Kanini and his firms that were sampled by investigators received more than Sh506 million in the period under investigation.
Willy Walla received the largest sum – Sh278 million. Mr Kanani’s personal account at I&M Bank received Sh181 million at the same time.
Among the transactions that detectives have flagged are fund transfers from the Kenyatta family-associated Mediamax Network Ltd totalling Sh23.8 million. Another transfer saw advertising firm Parrot Concepts Ltd pay Mr Kanani Sh50 million.
Detectives believe that Willy Walla could be a briefcase company incorporated by Mr Kanani for the sole purpose of receiving bribes and kickbacks from City Hall contractors.
Detectives have told the anti-corruption court that after receiving suspected bribes, Mr Kanani would move money through several of his bank accounts before making large cash withdrawals. In some instances, the City Hall worker deposited large amounts of cash that the EACC terms suspicious.
Mr Kanani has not declared any source of income to City Hall other than his salary, court papers indicate.