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Okoth Obado off the hook, strikes deal with EACC in Sh2bn graft case

Okoth Obado off the hook, strikes deal with EACC in Sh2bn graft case

Former Migori Governor Okoth Obado and the anti-graft body have reached a compromise in a deal that will see him forfeit two high-end vehicles, a house in Loresho and other properties worth Sh235 million.

In a consent recorded before High Court judge Esther Maina, Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission dropped the cases on unexplained wealth against Mr Obado and his children among others.

Mr Obado on his part forfeited two Land Cruisers, which were seized in 2020, a house in Nairobi’s Loresho area, and two apartments in Nairobi’s Greenspan area, a maisonette in the same area and a two-storey block in Suna East.

Mr Obado will also forfeit a commercial block known as Sunrise centre in Suna East worth Sh88 million, a five-storey residential block also in Suna East estimated to be worth Sh57.6 million and another property in Kamagambo worth Sh10 million.

“Now therefore, the defendants have offered to surrender and the commission has accepted to receive 8 properties and two motor vehicles, as more particularly set out in hereunder at the current market value of Sh235,600,000 to be disposed of by way of public auction in full and final settlement,” the consent signed on June 4, 2024 states.

The EACC initially targeted more than Sh2 billion allegedly siphoned from the Migori county government and wanted the court to rule whether it constituted to unexplained wealth as per section 55 of the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act. 

The anti-graft body had filed two cases, a case seeking to forfeiture of unexplained assets worth Sh1.9 billion and another petition seeking the recovery of assets worth Sh73.4 million, as being proceeds of corruption. 

The anti-graft body said it sought for an out-of-court settlement because it could not trace relevant documents after a fire damaged the county stores in September 2017, destroying the evidence. 

In the first case, the EACC had obtained orders stopping the sale or transfer of 69 parcels of land and two motor vehicles.

The commission had claimed that Mr Obado had registered several companies for the sole purpose of fraudulent acquisition of public funds through fictitious contracts. 

“And whereas the commission deduced verifiable works and projects from the documents filed by the defendants, undertook a verification exercise of the said works and established that some works had been satisfactorily done,” the consent added. 

Court filings by EACC said investigations revealed that the contractors were working in consonance with county officials, who held influential positions and which they used to embezzle public funds through fictitious procurement contracts.

Some of his family members also registered companies, which they allegedly used to siphon funds from Migori through contracts between 2013 and 2017. 

Investigations reveal that the companies were paid for rendering fictitious services as they were incorporated way after they received substantial amounts of monies from the county government from as early as 2014.

The house in Nairobi’s Loresho area, worth Sh40 million, was allegedly registered under the name of Jared Peter Kwaga.

The EACC had claimed that he was awarded contracts worth millions to several companies linked to Mr Kwaga by the Migori County government. 

Other close members associated with Mr Obado and Kwaga included his brothers Patroba Ochanda and Joram Opala, his mother Penena Otago and Christine Akinyi (spouse) and sister in-law Carolyne Onyango.

The documents stated that out of the monies paid to the companies, some Sh34.5 million was spent in the purchase of the house in Loresho. 

The agency said Mr Kwaga transferred the money paid to him to his personal account at Co-operative Bank and later deposited to accounts of Mr Obado’s children, who were studying abroad.

“Further analysis of the Defendants’ bank statements showed that the Governor benefitted to the tune of Sh38,949,376.90 through monies sent to his children – Dan Achola Okoth, Jerry Zachary Okoth, and Scaret Susan Okoth,” EACC said in the court documents. 

EACC said it sought mutual legal assistance through the Attorney General’s office in Scotland, UK and Australia and discovered that the funds sent by three firms, which traded with Migori county, sent the funds to Obado’s children, then studying abroad.

Later, Dan Achola Okoth bought the two land cruisers. 

Mr Kwaga’s five relatives, Mr Obado and his five children- Dan, Susan Scarlet Akoth, Jerry and Evelyne Zachary have been charged with conspiracy to commit economic crime and money laundering. The case is still ongoing and they are out on bail.

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