Former Nairobi County Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Kiamba has successfully argued for the reduction of the money he is supposed to entrust for the benefit of the state, which the High Court had in 2018 deemed unexplained wealth.
Mr Kiamba and his wife Tracy Mbinya convinced the Court of Appeal that the High Court had included their Sh168.7 million rental and business income in the Sh282.6 million he was to forfeit to the state.
“The appeal succeeds only in that we hereby set aside the order of the trial court requiring the first appellant to pay to the government the sum of Sh282,648,604 and, instead, we order and direct hereby that the appellants do so jointly and severally. pay or forfeit to the Government of Kenya the sum of Sh113,893,743, representing the unexplained money in their bank accounts,” Justices Imaana Laibuta, Abida Ali-Aroni and John Mativo ruled.
Mr Kiamba, however, was out of luck after the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) convinced the court that some of the properties that had been removed from the list of assets to be forfeited to the State constituted unexplained wealth.
The EACC had initially listed 15 landed properties, seven vehicles and money in eight bank accounts as “unexplained assets” and put their value at Sh872 million. The amount was later reduced to Sh575 million.
While expanding the list of assets to be confiscated, the three judges questioned how Mr. Kiamba was able to acquire several high-end properties between 2009 and 2013.
“Even if it were to be assumed that the undisputed properties were generating income, no evidence was presented to the court to support huge sums of rent which would have enabled the appellants to acquire the properties which they acquired in upscale Nairobi,” the judges said.
The judges said they agreed with EACC’s argument that trial judge Hedwig On’gudi erred in failing to question the difference in income between 2009 and 2013, which was increased from 600,000 shillings to 95 million shillings in the space of six years.
The court said there was not enough evidence to support allegations that the city’s former county official could purchase three apartments on Pritt Lane.
He acquired the first on October 27, 2010 for 14 million shillings, a second and a third on May 10, 2012 for 15 million shillings and 15.5 million shillings respectively, and a house in South C, acquired for 10.5 million shillings in 2010.
Mr Kiamba also acquired an apartment named Skyrock for Sh25 million on August 17, 2012.
The former CFO had defended millions of people by claiming that he had been engaged in large-scale wheat and livestock farming since 2006, that he owned two hotels in Mombasa and Machakos, that he was engaged in the water and quarrying sector in Machakos and that he had rental income from properties jointly owned with his wife.
Ms Mbinya informed the court that she received a monthly rental income of Sh250,000 from the Skyrock apartment, a monthly income of Sh1 million from her interior design business and an income of Sh200,000 from the salon of beauty per month.
“We therefore criticize the learned trial judge for having concluded, in the absence of sufficient explanations and supporting evidence, that the known income of the appellants could justify the purchase of the following assets,” said the judges.