Court orders Assets Recovery Agency to unfreeze Sonko’s five bank accounts
The Assets Recovery Agency (ARA) has been ordered to immediately unfreeze five bank accounts belonging to embattled Nairobi County Governor Mike Sonko.
In their arguments before court, defence lawyers Harrisson Kinyanjui, Cecil Miller and George Kithi said the period sought by ARA to probe the accounts has since lapsed as Sonko continues to suffer.
“ARA did not return to court to seek extension of the orders to continue freezing the accounts of Sonko,” chief magistrate Martha Mutuku was told.
Mr Kinyanjui told the magistrate that ARA is irregularly using the orders it got last year to continue placing an embargo on his accounts.
Ms Mutuku allowed the request by the defence lawyers then proceeded to direct unfreezing of the accounts.
“The agency was riding on expiry court orders. It should have approached the court for the extension as required by the law upon expiry of the December orders,” she ruled on Tuesday.
In a passionate plea, Sonko had said he was grounded and could not support himself or his family as he was not able to withdraw his salary as governor.
ARA had asked the court to freeze his accounts following claims of suspicious cash transactions that the agency believed to be proceeds of crime “as a result of theft from Nairobi County Government”.
ARA had requested the freeze order amid a plan to carry out investigations.
The agency had told the court that it had information on October 5, 2019 that the accounts received suspicious deposits.
However, in his application before court, Sonko says there is no evidence showing that funds held in his bank account are proceeds of crime and as a result, the move by ARA hampered his family life.
Sonko learnt of the order on December 24 when the banks informed him that his accounts had been frozen by a court order dated December 11.
The order was given to the agency by senior resident magistrate Elector Riany.
Sonko and others face a Sh357 million corruption case. He has denied the charges and is out on bond.
Sonko has also applied to be allowed to travel overseas.
The application is pending before chief magistrate Douglas Ogoti.