A Ministry of Land employee, who earns an average of Shillings 150,000 a month, is said to have amassed Shillings 1.2 billion worth of cash and fortune, including a palatial home in the affluent Karen area of Nairobi, which caught the eyebrows of investigators who want to freeze everything.
The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) has asked the courts to forfeit several properties, homes and luxury vehicles belonging to Nicholas to the state Owino Ochiel after the value of his assets disagreed matched his sources of income.
Mr. Ochiel, a Senior Assistant Director of Valuation at the Ministry of Lands, would normally be classified by his salary and income from Other stated sources as agriculture is a middle-class Kenyan.
< p>But while his colleagues struggle to survive in the difficult economic times, Mr. Ochiel retires to a mansion worth at least 80 million in the evenings onen Sh back a swimming pool in the quiet suburbs of Karen.
Trouble for a ministry employee with a bank account of over Sh20 million despite salary of Sh32,000< /p>
In the morning he has the option of either a BMW, a Toyota Land Cruiser or beating traffic on Langata or Ngong Road in a Volkswagen; all luxury cars. And while his friends wait for their salaries at the end of the month, the real estate appraiser need only check his accounts to see if the tenants of his six apartments across the country paid their rent on time.
< p> All of these Property worth at least Sh1.2 billion was acquired between 2003 and 2018, but Mr Ochiel was only able to identify Sh158 million when confronted by investigators. In all, the appraiser earned 15 million shillings from his government salary and 10.9 million shillings from farming during the 15 years he was on the property acquisition spree.
But when asked how he did it, acquiring so obscene an amount of his wealth when he had no sources of income other than his salary and farming he could give no reasonable explanation. This led investigators to conclude that he was involved in corruption.
“He improperly exploited his position to gain advantage for himself by contracting with private companies for services for which he was employed and paid by the ministry,” said an EACC investigative report filed with the court to freeze Mr. Ochiel’s assets.
“He is reasonably suspected of corrupt conduct by privileged official Information used in the Ministry to make financial gains with him through affiliated companies,” says EACC.
In addition to his home in Karen, Mr. Ochiel owns Ternic Court Apartments in Thome Estate, Nairobi valued at Sh130 million , a Sh100 million vacant land on Parklands Road and a Sh190 million commercial building along Kisumu-Busia Road under construction.
He owns Also currently three blocks of flats in the Lolwe estate, Kisumu, valued at Sh55m, Sh53m and Sh15.5m respectively, and a massionette in Mirema worth Sh23m.
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Also in his portfolio are several properties spread across the municipality of Kisumu, Siaya City, Ugunja, Kajiado, Fort Tenan and Ngong Roads in Nairobi. Some of these properties are registered in the name of Mr Ochiel’s wife Terry Muthoni Maina or Ternic Valuers Limited, a company of the two.
Investigators say Mr Ochiel colluded with Ternic Valuers Limited and Ternic Enterprises Limited , which he also owns with his wife to manipulate the valuations of properties for sale in order to obtain a favorable stamp duty.
Stamp duty is a tax levied on various transactions such as stocks or stocks, or transfer of ownership by the Kenyan Revenue Agency (KRA) and is one of the government’s main sources of income.
Appraisers from the Department of Land determine the value of each property for sale before it changes hands to its new owner. This valuation is independent of the price the seller and buyer have agreed upon for the sale.
The new owner then pays 2 percent of the property’s value if it is a rural area, or 4 percent if it is it is located in an urban area, to KRA before the title is changed to their name. For example, a property valued at Sh100 million by the Nairobi Government would be subject to a stamp duty of Sh4 million.
As lead appraiser, Mr. Ochiel had access to all property transactions and confidential information on titles, that were about to change hands at Ardhi House, the Land Ministry’s headquarters in Nairobi. Investigators say he used this information to strike deals with real estate development companies in exchange for millions of dollars in kickbacks.
“Mr Ochiel, through the third and fourth defendants, entered into various contracts with real estate development companies, organizations and other members of the public to facilitate assessment, payment of state stamp duty, title processing and alleged performance of forensic examination services,” says EACC, which has named Ternic Valuers and Ternic Enterprises Limited as the third fourth defendant in the case.
According to investigators, Mr Ochiel, through Ternic Valuers and Ternic Enterprises Limited, approached property development companies or members of the public who had applied to the Ministry for a valuation of property for sale.
Although the details of the transactions who have favourited Mr. Ochiel and his two Dealings with the real estate developers he did deals with will face a court case, detectives suspect he used his influence with the ministry to under- or over-state the properties in question.
He is also said to have received stamp duties directly from his clients, rather than asking them to pay KRA as required, but still assist them with the transfer of property.
“The suspect has received government duties and stamp duty fees from assessed and received by his clients without notifying the Department, thereby compromising his official duties in favor of personal interest in contravention of Section 42 of the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act 2003,” says EACC.
He is then suspected of providing the Having used billions of shillings that taxpayers lost through his deals to buy the luxurious cars and real estate ten, which the EACC now wants to judicially forfeit to the state. Most of these properties were purchased by Ternic Valuers and Ternic Enterprises Limited.
“Investigations also revealed that the suspect used his wife, Ternic Valuers and Ternic Enterprises as channels to obtain funds obtained in the US, to keep or otherwise conceal as a result of corrupt behavior,” says EACC.
Among the cars sought by the Commission for repossession are a BMW registration KBA 250K, a Volkswagen (KBT 860V) and a Toyota Land Cruiser (KBC 578Q).
“Pending a hearing and determination of this lawsuit, this honorable court is pleased to grant an order appointing a licensed auctioneer to impound all motor vehicles listed herein and for sale by public auction above,” says EACC.
Mr Ochiel was first employed as a surveyor by the Department of Land and Settlements in 1996. From 2012 to 2016, he worked as a senior assessor in the same ministry before being promoted to a senior assistant director rating.