When the government withdrew the use of Ksh1,000 old bank notes in June 2019, several people with both ill-gotten wealth and savings were in a rush to beat the government deadline, without raising suspicion.
Among them was Kenya Rural Roads Authority deputy director in charge of supply chain management Margret Wanja Muthui, who bought 35 apartments in just four months.
According to revelations by the Asset Recovery Agency (ARA), Ms Muthui bought 11 apartments in Kileleshwa for Ksh264 million between July and September 24, 2019.
Before that, she had acquired 12 units in a flat in Ruaka for Ksh15 million in June 2019.
The agency suspects that apartments worth Ksh374.5 million owned by Ms Muthui are proceeds of illicit wealth. The apartments add to Ksh94 million in bank accounts linked to Ms Muthui.
The purchase of apartments looked like a safe avenue for Ms Muthui, since those exchanging the old bank notes for new ones were required to explain the source of the money.
In all the transactions, Ms Muthui paid in cash, leaving the real estate dealers to deal with banks and explain the source of the money.
Later, she acquired a house in Nairobi and parcels of land in Riruta and Dagoretti, which were registered in the names of other persons.
In a ruling on Tuesday, June 22, 2021, Justice James Wakiaga ordered the freezing of the Ksh94 million held in several Co-operative Bank accounts registered under different names.
Also, Justice Wakiaga had ordered the chief lands registrar to place caveats on the Ksh374.5 million property pending hearing and determination of the matter.
Ksh74.7 million in the bank accounts is held in the name of Ms Esther Wagio Njunge, Ksh13.9 million in the name of Ms Muthui and Ksh4.8 million in the name of Light House Trading Company.
The house in Nairobi, known as Collingham Gardens, was purchased for Ksh55 million on August 1, 2016 while the land in Dagoretti was purchased for Ksh25 million from Rosemary Wanjiku Gathuku.
The apartments in Kileleshwa were bought from Ceytun East Africa Ltd, a subsidiary of Turkey company known as Ceytun Insaat Sanayi Ve Ticaret.
Three of the apartments in Kileleshwa draw a combined rent income of Ksh536,000, which will now be deposited in a KCB account belonging to ARA.