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Court Freezes SH1.2bn Assets of Senior Lands Official

Court Freezes SH1.2bn Assets of Senior Lands Official

The
court has extended preservation orders, allowing the anti-corruption agency to
seize Sh1.2 billion in assets belonging to a top official in the Ministry of
Lands.

The
Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) has been granted permission by
Justice Esther Maina to seize the assets of Nicholas Owino Ochiel, a senior
assistant director of valuation at the Ministry of Lands and Physical Planning.
Mr Ochiel’s Sh80 million Karen home and other multimillion-shilling properties
across the country are among the frozen assets.

The
targeted wealth is said to be worth Sh1,206,851,274 and the EACC claims that it
was obtained over a 15-year period through bribery, corruption, and other
economic crimes (2003 to 2018).

EACC
claims in the suit, in which the official is sued alongside his wife and
brother, that he amassed the wealth illegally and used his two kin (wife and
brother) as conduits to receive, hold, and conceal funds obtained through
corruption. Mr. Ochiel has been barred from dealing with the assets, which
include 17 parcels of land and an office space suspected to be proceeds of
corruption, pending the outcome of the forfeiture suit. The interim order also
prohibits Mr. Ochiel from collecting or receiving monthly rent from his ten
rental properties. The properties are in Nairobi, Kajiado, Kisumu, SIaya, and
Ugunja.

The High Court has allowed EACC to investigate Tatu City over tax evasion and money laundering.

Houses,
lands, cars, and bank deposits are among the seized assets. Mr Ochiel’s Karen
residence is worth Sh80 million, Ternic Court Apartments and Thome Estate are
worth Sh130 million, and an undeveloped plot on Parklands Road in Nairobi is
worth Sh100 million.

The
official was sued along with his wife Terry Violet Muthoni Maina, his companies
Ternic Valuers Limited and Ternic Enterprises Limited, and his brother Richard
Omondi Ochiel.

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