The High Court on Tuesday froze Sh113 million held in accounts of two women suspected to be proceeds of crime.
Justice Elizabeth Maina also certified as urgent an application seeking forfeiture of the funds in the accounts of Tebby Wambuku Kago and Felesta Nyamathira Njoroge.
Felesta is a 21-year-old college student whose Sh102 million held at Cooperative Bank was frozen last month.
This time, the Assets Recovery Agency is after some Sh5 million held in her account at Stanbic Bank.
The rest of the funds belong to Tebby whose two accounts at Equity Bank hold Sh71 million and Sh37 million respectively.
The Assets Recovery Agency moved to court seeking preservation of the funds, saying they are suspected to be proceeds of crime.
Tebby’s bank account 1750180591737 held at Equity Bank was opened on February 22, 2021.
An analysis showed deposits amounting to Sh102 million was made to the account in a span of four days from August 6 to August 10.
The funds were deposited by Belgian Marc De Mesel.
De Mesel is also the man who sent another Sh102 million between August 4 and August 6 to Felesta in her account at Co-operative Bank.
He said the money was a gift to his girlfriend Felesta.
In Tebby’s case, De Mesel sent Sh25,422,175 to the account on August 6, 2021. That is the same day he made double deposits of Sh25,242,756 and Sh25,579,356 to Felesta account number 02100705531800 held at Co-operative Bank.
On August 10, the man deposited Sh25,987175, Sh26,552,175 and another Sh24,857,175 to Tebby’s account at Equity Bank.
Investigators said Tebby withdrew Sh825,571.22 from the account on September 28 before transferring Sh5,113,122.31 and another Sh25,565,610.42 to Jane Wangui Kago and Sarah Njoki respectively on October 15.
“The respondents are suspected to be part of a syndicate involved in a complex money-laundering designed to conceal, disguise the nature, source, disposition and movement of the illicit funds suspected to constitute proceeds of crime,” Assets Recovery Agency said in its affidavit through principal state counsel Mohamed Adow.
With a total of Sh31,401,303.53 withdrawn or transferred, the agency sought to have the remaining Sh71 million preserved for possible forfeiture to the state.
“It is hereby ordered that the preservation orders be and is hereby issued prohibiting the respondents and/or their representatives, employees, agents, servants or any other persons acting on their behalf from transacting, withdrawing, transferring and/or dealing in any manner howsoever in respect of funds and any profits or benefits derived or accrued from the funds held in the three accounts,” Justice Maina said.
The freeze order will remain in force for 90 days, the judge said.
The agency had said she was self-employed when she opened the bank account but no funds had been deposited to the account until De Mesel sent millions of shillings.
“There are reasonable grounds and evidence demonstrating that the said funds are direct or indirect benefits, profits and/or proceeds of crime obtained from a complex money-laundering scheme and are liable to be preserved pending filing, hearing and determination of intended forfeiture,” the agency said.
Last week, the agency was given seven days to respond to an application by Felesta who sought to have the orders that froze her Co-operative Bank account set aside.
She wants to be allowed to access her bank accounts, arguing that the agency obtained the orders in absence of disclosure of material facts.
She said the agency’s action in seeking orders to freeze her bank accounts was actuated by malice for no explanation was sought from her regarding the funds in her account.
“I have not been accused of breaching any financial regulations in Kenya. The agency is now bent on damaging my reputation by serialising the matter through the press,” she said.
The case will be mentioned January 26 to confirm compliance.