Blow to Dirty Millionaires as Supreme Court Shuts Door on Graft Cases

Clerk helps man get released

There has been a tendency of men and women in high positions to refer to the constitution particularly on their right to own property when they are asked by the state to explain how their sources of income or how they came to acquire some high-end property. Normally they would invoke the power of the highest in the Judiciary hierarchy, to buy some time to protect what is not rightfully theirs.

The ruling on the case of Mr Stanley Amuti, a former finance manager at the National Water Conservation and Pipeline Corporation, who had built a multi-million estate within a few years, but when he was taken to court by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, he could not explain where he got the money, has set the bar high for dirty millionaires.

The Supreme Court now says that it will not listen to such cases “as a matter of right” under Article 163 (4) (a) and that those who cannot explain the source of their wealth cannot rush to be heard at that level, leaving folks caught up in cases of tainted property or unlawful acquired property at to be dealt with at the High Court or the Court of Appeal. Those who cannot explain the source of their wealth will have to do better than hiding behind the right to property, to defend themselves.

In the case of Amuti, he was ordered to surrender Sh41 million to the government after failing to explain its source. A court of appeal observed that when an individual is alleged to have assets disproportionate to his known lawful source of income, asking such a person to explain and account for the unexplained disproportionate assets is not a violation of the constitutional protection of the right to property. The Supreme Court has now added that presumption of innocence as a legal right does not arise when somebody is asked to explain their wealth and does not violate the right to a fair hearing.