For five years, Evans Wafula Kundu thought he had made his fortune by acquiring an empire with properties valued at 450 million shillings spread over three counties.
Kundu, a former supervisor in charge of the Department of Mechanics and Transportation at the National Youth Service (NYS), lived life on the first lane despite his meager monthly salary of 26,000 shillings which raised suspicions about his sources of wealth.
At the height of the great NYS robbery in which it is alleged that more than 9 billion shillings were lost, Kundu was said to have played a key role in signing payment vouchers to companies that traded and supplied goods to the institution. of state.
He rose from weed to grace, but his millionaire empire crumbled after the High Court ruled his wealth was proceeds of crime acquired by stealing public funds from NYS and that he should forfeit in the state.
Judge Esther Maina found that Kundu’s properties spread across Trans Nzoia, Nakuru and Nairobi were directly purchased with money stolen from NYS through collusion with rogue traders and businesses who were paid millions of shillings to not provide nothing to the state agency.
“He could not have acquired the enormous wealth and assets legitimately given his income at the time. I am satisfied that the assets are proceeds of crime and therefore subject to confiscation for the benefit of the government,” Maina said.
Properties to confiscate
The properties Kundu is about to lose include land in Runda which he bought at 90 million shillings, land in Kasarani worth 16 million shillings, property in Nakuru East valued at 25 million shillings, a four storey residential building in Njoro and 40 acres of land in Kitale, Trans Nzoia County.
The lawsuit against Kundu was filed by the Asset Recovery Agency, claiming that between 2013 and 2018, when there was a wave of looting in NYS, the young official amassed massive wealth which included cash deposits from 197,391,968 shillings in his accounts and properties worth 350 million shillings.
ARA claimed that Kundu played several roles in the fraudulent NYS transactions where he signed most of the fraudulent local purchase orders and issued payment slips for goods not used or required by his transportation department.
According to the agency, Kundu used the names of his wife and daughters to buy properties, and also colluded with his two brothers to register companies which, in turn, secured contracts with the NYS and have paid millions without providing anything.
Kundu had in his defense said that the source of the money he used to buy the properties was farming, but Judge Maina found that his income from the farming business amounted to 1.2 million of shillings for the period of five years, which could not justify his lavish lifestyle.
“I find that his explanation of the source of the money with which he acquired the assets during the relevant period was unconvincing and did not rebut the evidence presented by ARA,” Maina said.
The judge sympathized with Kundu’s wife and children, ruling that although they were merely beneficiaries of his ill-gotten wealth, all the properties he registered in their name should also be confiscated for the benefit of the ‘State.
According to the judge, Kundu did not even address the disputed large cash deposits amounting to 197 million shillings transacted on various dates through his accounts during the period which was the height of the NYS theft cases.
“This silence raises many questions, what were the sources of these funds and what is the connection between the funds and the assets acquired during the period when public funds were stolen from NYS,” Maina said.
Kundu is among several people being prosecuted in seven different corruption cases still pending in the anti-corruption court relating to alleged theft and corruption at NYS between 2013 and 2018 in which the prosecution claims that more than 9 billion shillings were stolen.
Judge Maina ruled that the fact that he is among the defendants and that he has not been convicted is not a sufficient reason to prove his innocence.
“The spirit and purpose of the Proceeds of Crime and Anti-Money Laundering Act is to ensure that no one benefits from criminal behavior and that any proceeds of criminal behavior are traced and confiscated at the benefit of the state,” Maina said.
The judge, however, saved his other properties comprising a house in Nairobi and two plots of land in Trans Nzoia County, ruling that he had acquired them after the period when the money was stolen from NYS.