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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

Kenyan Treasury and Jersey ink deal for return of 'stolen' money

by David Musyoka NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya and Jersey, a British Crown dependency, have signed an agreement which now paves way for the return of over 3.8 million U.S. dollars of stolen assets to Nairobi.

The agreement signed between Kenya and Government of Jersey is the latest step taken by both governments to secure the return of the funds, which were confiscated by the Royal Court of Jersey in February 2016.

Jersey is a British Crown dependency among the Channel Islands with an area almost the size of Nairobi city but with about 100,000 people.

A statement from the British High Commission in Nairobi said Tuesday this was after defendant company Windward Trading Limited pleaded guilty to four counts of laundering the proceeds of corruption.

The Chief Minister of Jersey, Senator Ian Gorst who signed the deal on behalf of the Government of Jersey said the agreement conveys a powerful message that both Jersey and Kenya are committed to combating issues of historic corruption and financial crime.

"The process is one that has understandably taken some time because of the legal complexities of confiscation and asset sharing," Gorst said.

"The completion of this agreement is a step towards ensuring these funds are returned to the people of Kenya, where they rightfully belong," he added.

"We are delighted to reach agreement with the Government of Jersey on this important matter.

"We welcome the positive cooperation between Kenya and Jersey and look forward to an enhanced partnership in future," said Dr. Kamau Thugge, the Principal Secretary for the National Treasury.

The corrupt activities took place in Kenya where Windward’s beneficial owner, Samuel Gichuru, is resident.

During the period on the indictment, Gichuru was also the Chief Executive of electricity utility, the Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC).

In June 2011, the Attorney General of Jersey requested the extradition of Kenyans - Gichuru and Chrysanthus Okemo, former Kenyan Energy Minister, from Kenya to face money laundering charges in Jersey in connection with Windward’s activities.

The extradition proceedings are still ongoing.

Indicted in July 2011 by the Jersey authorities for money laundering, the two Kenyans have been fighting legal battles in Kenya to stop their extradition.

Jersey’s laws allow the authorities to seize assets gained from criminal activities such as money laundering, drug trafficking and bribery

The Nairobi High Court in November 2016 ordered that they be extradited.

They appealed the decision and a temporary order was issued last month for them to stay until the matter is decided.

Gichuru and Okemo face 53 counts linked to the "commissions" from companies bidding to get contracts with KPLC.

Details of the money were exposed when Gichuru’s wife filed court papers during proceedings for divorce. The wife claimed an estimated 10,000 U.S. dollars was stashed abroad.

Windward, according to court records, admitted to laundering proceeds of crime between July 29 1999 and October 19, 2001. Those activities took place in Kenya, where Gichuru was still serving as Kenya Power’s boss.

This scheme involved companies from different countries, and an investigation Jersey launched into the matter meant it had to seek legal assistance from as many as 12 countries around the world.

The companies included Wartsila, based in Finland, Knight Piésold, from South Africa, British engineering company Mott Macdonald and Capitan (Europe).

They all paid Gichuru to get favours for contracts through accounts Windward held at Jersey’s HSBC Bank Plc and Royal Bank of Scotland International.

           

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