Puzzle of traffic police officer with Sh20,000 salary and Sh30 million wealth

Chief Inspector Gabriel Mbiti Mulei at work at Malindi Police Station. The court on Wednesday ruled that he failed to show the source of millions of shillings in his bank accounts among other assets.

Photo credit: File I Nation Media Group

A well-heeled traffic police officer who could not explain how he acquired his vast wealth could lose it all to the state after the High Court gave the anti-graft agency the nod to recover the properties.

Chief Inspector Gabriel Mbiti Mulei is likely to surrender Sh10.5 million held in his four bank accounts, seven parcels of land valued at Sh19.4 million, five vehicles and one motorcycle.

Ruling on a forfeiture suit filed by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission in 2015 on suspicion that the officer was involved in corruption, Justice Njoki Mwangi said the properties constitute unexplained assets.

She ordered him to pay to the government a sum of Sh10,536,199 being the cumulative amount he deposited in his bank accounts between June 18, 2008 and February 18, 2011.

“It is my finding that Mulei did not offer any explanation as to why deposits amounting to Sh10,536,199 were made to his various bank accounts, excluding his salary account,” said the judge.

The amount should be paid within 30 days. The parcels of land are in Malindi, Kwale Township and Ndithini/Mananja. His monthly net salary was approximately Sh20,000, court papers indicate.

The judge ruled that he failed to show the source of the funds used to acquire the plots and the vehicles.

The court found that the Malindi traffic base commander failed to explain how he had acquired the assets, which were not commensurate with his known legitimate source of income.

Raise questions

“The properties the subject of this suit, as well as the deposits in his bank accounts, raise questions with respect to their sources. I am satisfied, on the evidence placed before me by EACC, that Mulei has unexplained assets,” said Justice Mwangi.

She said the officer had the evidential burden to offer a satisfactory explanation on the legitimate acquisition of the assets. “When the burden of proof shifted to him, he made a feeble attempt to respond to the claims by EACC by stating that he had been in active employment for two decades and had been earning a decent salary,” said the judge.

The officer had also stated that he had engaged in “side business”, which had added to his income. In addition, he said he had served in different places in Coast and that he was a member of the police sacco.

He had denied owning any land in Kwale or Malindi but admitted to the ownership of the plots in Ndithini/Mananja, which he stated were obtained through payment by installments, funds from shooting competitions and loans.

Trace the records

He, however, said he could not trace the records for the purchase of the said parcels of land.

EACC claimed that between June 18, 2008 and February 18, 2011, the officer had made cash and cheque deposits totaling Sh10.5 million in his bank accounts, excluding his salary account. Bank statements and the officer’s transactions were produced in court.

The court heard that EACC received information to the effect that Mulei was soliciting for bribes from road users in Malindi while serving as the traffic base commander. He was deployed to Malindi in February 2008.

EACC investigator Mutembei Nyagah said a search at Mulei’s house resulted in the retrieval of documents that established he had accounts at Barclays, Equity, Cooperative and Standard Chartered banks.

Mr Nyagah said the accounts were reasonably suspected to have been used as “conduits” for acquisition and concealment of illicit wealth.

It was also stated that Mulei’s salary account at Barclays Bank Nairobi demonstrated that in the entire period of service as the base commander, he had received several millions of shillings over his salary.