Former NLC boss Swazuri arrested over land compensation scam

Former NLC boss Swazuri arrested over land compensation scam
National Land Commission Chairman Muhammad Swazuri speaking to the press on Wednesday July 25, 2018.

Muhammad Swazuri, former National Lands Commission (NLC) chairman has been arrested alongside several other ex-officials

Detectives from the Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission (EACC) arrested the officials from their homes on Wednesday Morning.

Among those who were arrested are:

Emma Njogu- commisioner NLC

Tom Aziz Chavangi- CEO NLC

Salome Ludenyi Munubi-Director Valuation and Taxation NLC

Francis Karimi Mugo- Director Finance NLC

Catherine Wanjiru Chege T/A.C W. Chege and Company Advocates

Samuel Rugongo Muturi – Businessman

Sostenah Ogero Taracha- Businessman

They will be charged with abuse office, conspiracy to commit economic crimes, money laundering among other charges according to a statement from the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) office.

Their arrests were occasioned by illegal compensation of land which was acquired by the commission in the construction of a road in Mombasa

In 2013, Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) tasked the NLC  with acquiring land for the construction of the Mombasa Southern Bypass and the Kipevu New Highway Container Terminal Link.

The land of reference number MN/VI/3801 belonging M/s Tornado Carriers Ltd was identified and valued at Ksh.49 million.

An offer of the same amount was made to M/s Tornado Carriers Ltd but was rejected forcing the commission to do another valuation.

The Chairman instructed the Director of Valuation and Taxation and another officer in the same department to undertake a second valuation.

The second valuation done two years ago returned a figure of Ksh.109,769,363.

KeNHA remitted the sum to the NLC and amounts of Ksh.55,269,363 and Ksh.54,500,000 were paid to M/s Tornado Carriers Ltd and C.W Chege and Co. Advocates respectively.

Swazuri, David Some, (Director, Keibukwo Investments), and Salome Munubi (NLC Director, Valuation and Taxation) were later released on a cash bail of Ksh.3.5million.

Although the charges had not been confirmed at the time, an audit report indicated that the Kenyan taxpayer had lost around Ksh. 4 billion in the illegality.

Evidence collected showed that fake compensation claims, double payments, over payments, inflation of land values and payment of people whose land was never on the corridor was used to loot taxpayer’s money.

Following the arrests, crucial data which was key in the investigations is said to have disappeared after a break-in at the commissions’ offices.

According to the commission, what got lost was a central processing unit in one of the computers within the Directorate of Valuation and Taxation containing some “operational data.”

The commission however maintained that it had the back-up to the data saying the break-in would not affect or compromise the integrity of process and procedures and any other matter related to compensations undertaken by the Commission.

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