Farming miracle that earned NYS scandal suspect millions
The Assets Recovery Agency (ARA) flagged Sh40 million suspicious deposits the former Youth and Gender Affairs PS Lilian Mbogo Omollo made in her bank accounts and those of her relatives.
ARA notes that the monies were deposited in batches of Sh900,000 and in some instances, to three different accounts on the same day to beat Central Bank of Kenya regulations.
Ms Omollo’s frozen bank accounts include six at Equity Bank registered under Lilian Muthoni Mbogo and other names.
One account under her name had $67,331.9 (Sh6.7 million), another in the name of Lidi Estates Ltd $28,981 (Sh2.8 million) and another in the same bank and under the same name had Sh2.3 million.
Another account had $8,979.83 (Sh8.9 million), another still at Equity Bank in Ms Omollo’s name had Sh1.68 million and an account trading as Sahara Consultants held at Diamond Trust Bank had Sh5.65 million and three accounts registered in her children’s names had more than Sh11 million.
The agency believes that the monies were unlawfully acquired and successfully had them frozen pending an application for them to be forfeited to the government.
Documents filed in court state that the amounts were deposited between January 2016 and March. Ms Omollo was appointed PS for Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs on December 18, 2015.
SUSPICIOUS CASH DEPOSITS
ARA told Justice Hedwig Ong’udi that there were massive suspicious cash deposits, withdrawals and intra transfers to the said accounts. All the 10 accounts were operated by Ms Omollo on her own behalf and her children and they suspect that the huge deposits are indicative of money laundering.
For example, an account at Equity Bank, Community Branch, received at total of $79,000 (Sh7.9 million) between May 11, 2017 and August 25, 2017. The deposits were made on May 11, July 6, August 2, 7 and 25, all in US dollars, at a time when the country was in tense moments of electioneering period.
On August 25, 2017, she made deposits in three different accounts of US dollars 10,000 (Sh1 million) and Sh900,000. On August 5, she made two deposits of US dollars 20,000 (Sh2 million) in two different accounts.
When she was summoned to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) on October 24, Ms Omollo said that the amounts were from her husband, Mr Dick Achieng Oneko, who also appeared for questioning.
She explained that she would split the money, which was from proceeds from farm produce in Siaya and deposit them in different accounts. She, however, failed to produce any receipts to show the sales but stated individuals bought the produce.
Asked why they would sell products in Siaya and carry the money all the way to Nairobi as opposed to depositing them in the county, she said they would keep it in a safe in Nairobi before making the deposits.
She claimed to have greenhouses where she farmed tomatoes and cucumbers and she also grew watermelons, among other crops. They allegedly took up serious farming in their ancestral home of Bondo five years ago. Mr Oneko said he would augment the farm sales with earnings from a consultancy firm known as Nile International in South Sudan. He said he was paid in cash and did not sign anywhere to back up the payments.
And if that was true, he brought in cash into the country without declaring it at the entry point.
Ms Omollo is facing charges in relation to the loss of more than Sh468 million at the National Youth Service. She has denied 12 counts of abuse of office and conspiracy to commit an economic crime.
Justice Ong’udi granted the agency 90 days, preserving the monies in the said accounts. The agency said there is reasonable grounds to believe that the cash in question was stolen from NYS. The trial is currently going on before Chief Magistrate Douglas Ogoti.