More than Sh108.2 million linked to a 21-year-old Nairobi Technical Institute student and an associate has been frozen over suspicion that it is proceeds of crime, bringing the total amount blocked to Sh210 million.
High Court judge Esther Maina ordered the freezing of $631,071 (Sh71.2 million) at Equity Bank #ticker:EQTY and Sh37 million in the same bank in the name of Tebby Wambui Kago.
The court further allowed the freezing of Sh5 million at Stanbic Bank #ticker:SBIC in Ms Felesta Nyamathira Njoroge’s account, adding to the $914,967 (Sh102 million) frozen last month.
The money was wired to the two by Ms Njoroge’s Belgian boyfriend Marc De Mesel in August amid suspicions of the source of the millions from the cryptocurrency dealer.
The Belgian had indicated in the declaration documents that Ms Njoroge was “free to use the money to secure financial security for our future children”.
Documents filed in court indicate that Ms Kago is an associate of Ms Njoroge, with both receiving the Sh210 million in eight batches over a period of two weeks.
Tuesday, the Assets Recovery Agency (ARA) told the court that investigations established that the suspect funds were received from the same source, Mr De Mesel, and distributed in the same manner, to various accounts belonging to the two women.
“The pattern of transaction in the accounts in issue and the activities of one De Mesel Marc and the Respondents depicts money laundering activities and this Honourable Court ought to issue the orders sought,” the agency said.
The agency said the Belgian wired a total of $909,900 between August 6 and 10 to Ms Kago’s dollar account.
In September, Ms Kago distributed a total of $278,799 to several accounts, including hers and another one registered in the name of Sarah Njoki.
“A preliminary analysis of the bank statement for account number *** held at Equity Bank Limited in the name of the 1st Respondent has established that the account received a cumulative sum of KES 37,000,000 in one single suspicious transaction in the month of November 2021,” the ARA said.
The court further heard that Ms Njoroge received Sh5 million through inward swift payment on September 22.
“There are reasonable grounds to suspect that the funds held in the above accounts are proceeds of crime acquired through illicit and money laundering scheme designed to conceal, disguise the nature, source location and movement of the funds,” the ARA said.
The previous freeze order was to last three months.
Ms Njoroge later challenged the order saying there was nothing linking the money to illegal dealings. The agency opposed the application to lift the order, arguing Ms Njoroge must demonstrate that she had suffered or would suffer hardship, if the money remained frozen.
“The funds in issue are presumed to be proceeds of crime and the applicant is not entitled to utilize 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 $ 229,980 on August 4, followed by 231,980 the following day. On August 6, he wired the money twice -- $224,980 and $227,980.
Ms Njoroge, however, says the application by the ARA is speculative and against her economic rights and that courts should not be used to assist the agency to interfere with her rights.
“The Respondent obtained sweeping and radical orders against me without making any material disclosure as to whether financial due process was not adhered to in the transfer of the funds to me,” she said.