Revealed: KRA man’s Sh600m wealth on 100k pay
A civil servant earning a monthly salary of Sh119, 000 has attracted the attention of the anti-graft commission over unexplained wealth estimated to be more than Sh615 million.
Joseph Chege Gikonyo’s millionaire lifestyle, which is at odds with his salary, is what alarmed the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) enough to go after him. The EACC argues that Mr Gikonyo has no other known sources of income to explain the massive fortune.
Gikonyo had declared he had assets estimated at only Sh61 million.
On Friday, EACC filed an urgent suit at the High Court to freeze Gikonyo’s accounts in an effort to recover the questionable wealth that includes immovable property spread across Nairobi, Mombasa, Kilifi and Kwale counties valued at Sh355 million, and cash deposits in various banks totalling Sh399 million.
Justice Hedwig Ong’udi allowed EACC’s application and issued an order stopping Gikonyo, his wife Lucy Kangai and their company Giche Ltd from disposing of any of their listed assets and property until the source of their wealth was determined.
Among the property listed were two plots in Nyali, Mombasa County, valued at Sh125 million, two parcels of land in Shanzu, also in Mombasa, valued at Sh26 million and a posh farm house in Kilifi town valued at Sh27 million.
Other property at the Coast includes a Sh40 million house in Mombasa town, land in Kwale valued at Sh2.5 million and another plot in Mtwapa valued at Sh2 million.
Gikonyo’s listed property in Nairobi includes 13 plots in Sosian estate valued at Sh75 million, several flats in Umoja estate valued at Sh33.5 million, a house at Greenspan estate valued at Sh12 million and a Sh9 million house in Vescon estate.
The six bank accounts EACC wants frozen are at Barclays Bank and National Bank of Kenya.
Gikonyo has been an employee of Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) since 1998, when he started off as a junior tax collector at Oloitokitok earning a basic salary of Sh24,369. He is currently the KRA manager in Eldoret with a net pay of Sh119,617.
Through suit papers filed in court, EACC claimed it was impossible for a civil servant of Gikonyo’s status to acquire such massive wealth in a span of 18 years without any other known source of income apart from his salary and the bonus he receives from tea farming in Murang’a County.
The EACC attached all his payslips from 1998 and statements of proceeds from tea farming, which show he has earned a total of Sh45 million in the last 20 years.
“During the period under investigation, the defendant’s known sources of income were cumulative salaries totalling Sh14 million, proceeds from sale of tea totalling Sh4 million, profit from sale of property of Sh21 million and cumulative sacco loans of Sh5 million,” said EACC.
James Kariuki, the commission’s forensic investigator, swore an affidavit to support the application stating that they received information that the tax collector had unexplained wealth and on investigation, established that the wealth was beyond his known sources of income.
Mr Kariuki swore that the investigations revealed Gikonyo and his wife had made numerous suspicious cash deposits in their bank accounts, whose sources they were unable to explain when summoned.
“Investigations revealed that at some point, they were making huge cash deposits into their account in tranches of Sh200,000 almost daily. They could not explain the source of such deposits, which made us believe the amounts were proceeds of crime,” said Kariuki.
He claimed that an analysis of Gikonyo’s mobile phone number revealed that he has received a total of Sh43, 913,116 through mobile money transfers sent to him by directors and managers of clearing and forwarding companies.
Also involved is a middleman stationed at the Mombasa port who received money from clearing agents and forwarded it to Gikonyo.
The EACC investigator stated that Gikonyo had taken out insurance policies for his family totalling Sh3.7 million and bought shares in Safaricom Ltd, Equity Ltd, Kenya-Re and KenGen.
He said Gikonyo’s declaration of income, assets and liabilities between 2013 and 2015 showed that he had assets estimated at Sh61 million.
“We were not satisfied with the explanation he gave about the disproportion of his wealth and what was declared in his income, assets and liabilities records. He must be compelled to return to the public Sh615, 457,059 being the difference of his unexplained wealth and known income,” said Kariuki.
Gikonyo had apparently told the investigators that the massive wealth came from his businesses – transportation, dairy and fish farming as well as selling spare parts, building materials and horticulture products.
But Kariuki stated that when asked for evidence of the other businesses, the tax collector could not produce any material or books of accounts to prove that he was involved in those businesses.
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He added that EACC’s investigations further revealed that Gikonyo, his wife and their company were involved in tax evasion that had denied KRA millions of shillings.
“The assessment report revealed that they owed taxes totalling Sh38 million. They are involved in corruption offences of dishonesty and tax evasion and must be made to surrender to the Government whatever they have illegally acquired,” said Kariuki.
The commission wants the court to allow it to sell the property through public auction and the proceeds deposited in the Consolidated Fund. Alternatively, they want a receiver manager appointed to collect proceeds from Gikonyo’s rentals for depositing in the Government account.
Justice Ong’udi directed EACC to serve Gikonyo, his wife and their company with the orders and gave them seven days to respond. She scheduled the hearing for July 31.
KRA has since responded to this story by The Standard clarifying that Mr Gikonyo is no longer an employee of the firm.