The Pandora Papers leak is arguably the biggest story in Kenya and globally since it broke out on Sunday, October 3.
The leaked files exposed the extent to which the wealthy class goes to hide their assets in foreign jurisdictions that not only offer low taxes but also the much-needed privacy.
However, this is not the first time that offshore accounts held by a member of Kenya’s upper class have brought bad publicity.
For former Kenya Power Company boss Samuel Gichuru, an otherwise simple divorce case opened a pandora’s box of its own – billions of shillings in his offshore accounts that birthed an arrest warrant that haunts him to date.
In the early 2000s, Gichuru sought divorce from his former wife, Salome Njeri over lack of emotional support.
During the suit on the division of financial assets, Njeri claimed she had been shortchanged as some of her husband’s assets were hidden offshore.
She sought an equal share of the marital property they had gained in the course of their union.
Her lawyer told a Nairobi court that Gichuru was worth more than he had declared in divorce papers and that he was controlling a multi-million dollar estate, foreign accounts, and acquired illegal properties.
“During my marriage to the respondent, he used to operate various bank accounts both locally and internationally and used to update me on our financial worth and investments,”Njeri stated.
Njeri laid a claim to the Ksh1.1billion (10 million USD), which was held in a bank account in St. Helier on Jersey in the British Channel Island’s.
“If this was indeed a joint account as alleged nothing would be easier than for the applicant to exhibit bank statements or some other such evidence of the existence of the account or the amount held in the account,” he told the court.
Despite winning the battle on the division of marital property, the British Intelligence used the affidavits of the court proceedings to investigate Gichuru after which a court in the UK issued a warrant of arrest against him.
It was alleged that he would receive hard-money bribery and then stash into off-shore accounts.
The authorities in Jersey then issued a warrant of arrest on Gichuru with his Jersey account ordered to be seized when officials in the company that remitted funds in his account pleaded guilty to four counts of money laundering before Royal Court in 2016.
Interpol petitioned Kenyan authorities to arrest Gichuru and former Cabinet Minister Chris Okemo and extradite them to the UK for their case to be heard. The matter is yet to be resolved in Kenyan courts.
According to the former KPLC boss, the persons who pleaded guilty were unknown to him and even his lawyers in Jersey knew nothing of the sort concerning the court proceedings.
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