Double blow for drug peddler as State allowed to seize assets

Thursday, December 7th, 2023 04:26 | By
Justice Esther Maina. PHOTO/Print

A convicted drug trafficker suffered another blow yesterday after the Anti-Corruption High Court sanctioned the forfeiture of his two properties in Mirema Drive in Roysambu and Githunguri to the State.

Joseph Kinyanjui Wanjiru, who was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in jail plus a fine of Sh42 million for trafficking in 4,857 grams of heroin, lost the properties after Assets Recovery Agency (ARA) convinced the court that the property was illegally acquired through the crime of trafficking in narcotic drugs.

In her judgement, Justice Esther Maina declared that the assets belonging to Kinyanjui, who is serving his sentence at Kamiti Maximum Prison, were acquired through proceeds of crime and ordered it to be forfeited to the government.

“It is my finding that the applicant (ARA) has established, on a balance of probabilities, that the subject assets are proceeds of crime. Kinyanjui has been unable to reasonably demonstrate to this court that the funds from legitimate sources of income purchased the subject assets in his name or dissociate the asset from the criminal activity he was convicted of. I therefore find that the subject assets are liable to forfeiture to the State,” Maina ruled.

Business proceeds

The judged forfeited the properties after the peddler failed to show a legitimate source of the funds he used to purchase a residential house No 118 Mirema Drive, off Thika Road, in Roysambu, Nairobi County and a parcel of land in Githunguri.

Although Kinyanjui claimed he acquired the property through business proceeds, the court observed that he did not give any evidence of such business.

“There is no other business that the court can say he conducted other than the trade in narcotics,” said the judge.

She ruled that Kinyanjui failed to tender any evidence to prove that the properties were acquired long before the conviction.

While seeking to have the properties forfeited to the state, ARA told the court that Kinyajui was arrested on December 7, 2016 at Mathare Drive-In Estate in Ruaraka and arraigned on December 14, 2016.

He was charged with the offence of trafficking narcotic drugs and the agency commenced investigations to recover proceeds of crime derived from the trafficking and trading of narcotics.

Brownish substances

The agency, through investigating officer Fredrick Muriuki, told the court that during the arrests, a search was conducted in the house belonging to Kinyanjui and a total of 4,857.87 grams of heroin whose market value was Sh14,573,610 were recovered from the house.

Also seized at his residence were two packages containing brownish and whitish substances inside a paper bag, four packages of brownish substances in a small sack, three weighing scales, two heaters, empty wrapping paper, five masks, phones, wallet containing Sh2,150, knives among other things.

On August 16, 2019, ARA received information that Kinyajui acquired assets or properties using the proceeds from the illegitimate trade.

The properties were L.R Ruiru East Block 1 (Githunguri) 1436, Residential House No. 118, L.R No. 7965/89 and Certificate of Title I.R Number 201022 Mirema Drive (Off Thika Road) Roysambu held in his name which are suspected to be proceeds of crime.

Muriuki informed the judge that upon receiving the information, they lodged a probe which revealed the properties were proceeds of crime obtained from the trade in narcotic drugs.

Kinyanjui was on August 9, 2018 found guilty and sentenced to 20 years in prison for trafficking drugs. There is no record of the matter having been appealed.

Money laundering

ARA told Justice Maina that an analysis of Kinyanjui’s accounts statements at Equity Bank and Barclays Bank established that there were suspicious deposits of huge sums of cash and cheques that indicated activities of money laundering.

“The deposits made were below Sh1 million to evade the reporting threshold as per the Central Bank of Kenya prudential guidelines for account holders to declare the source of money,” ARA officer Muriuki said.

The anti-graft agency informed the court that Kinaynjui acquired, conveyed, sold and distributed the narcotics drugs and laundered the proceeds by investing them in two properties with an intent of concealing, disguising and hiding the source of funds used to acquire the assets.

But Kinyanjui opposed the forfeiture saying that prior to his conviction, he ran a brokerage business in construction material, real estate and second-hand clothing and that before that he was an employee of African Heritage.

He contended that there were no grounds to infer criminal conduct as far as his properties were concerned.

He said that should the court allow the forfeiture of his property to the State, it would give credence and undeserved legitimacy to the ARA to continue to “maliciously advance false allegations against Kenyans by frustrating their hard-earned money and forfeiting properties without reasonable grounds.”

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