Two lawyers have given conflicting information on the whereabouts and identity of a college student whose Sh102 million wired by her Belgian boyfriend was frozen by the High Court last year.
Appearing before Justice Ether Maina, Walter Omanga told the court that Ms Felesta Nyamathira Njoroge left the country six months ago and has never returned.
He said the 21-year-old student instructed him to oppose the case filed by Assets Recovery Agency (ARA), seeking to forfeit the money to the State.
Another lawyer, Thomas Maosa told the court that Ms Njoroge has never left the country and she was the one who instructed him together with lawyer PLO Lumumba to oppose ARA’s case.
ARA obtained an order freezing the accounts, pending conclusion of investigations into the source of the funds. The woman had claimed that her boyfriend Marc De Mesel wired the money to her, indicating that she was free to use the funds to secure financial security for their children.
“It is unfortunate we find ourselves in this situation. The real Felesta is out of the country and is heavily pregnant and she is due to give birth. We can present documents to support our position. We can present her to ARA depending on the medical advice and upon travelling back to the country,” Mr Omanga told the court.
Mr Maosa insisted Ms Njoroge has never travelled out of the country. “We presented Felesta to ARA but they opted not to take her statement. She is not out of the country. We are ready to present her again,” said Mr Maosa.
The judge suspended the case for 90 days for the advocates to present Ms Njoroge to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) for confirmation of the real person.
Justice Maina froze the Sh102 million after ARA argued that it suspects that she was involved in money laundering.
Ms Njoroge later challenged the order saying there was nothing linking the money to illegal dealings. She said ARA’s application is speculative and against her economic rights and courts should not be used to assist the agency to interfere with her rights.
The agency opposed the application to lift the order saying Ms Njoroge must demonstrate that she has suffered or will suffer hardship if the money remains frozen.
“The funds in issue are presumed to be proceeds of crime and the applicant is not entitled to utilise the same pending the filing and determination of forfeiture application,” the agency said in the application.
Documents filed in court showed that the Belgian wired USD 229,980 on August 4, followed by USD 231,980 the following day. On August 6, he wired the money twice $224,980 and $227,980, alarming the state agency.
The case will be mentioned on May 16.