Justice Esther Maina of the Anti-Corruption High Court Division allowed a request by the Assets Recovery Agency (ARA) to preserve the funds belonging to the two women.
The duo, Tebby Wambuku Kago and Felesta Nyamathira Njoroge, had the amounts deposited in three different accounts. Authorities believe that the amounts held in Equity Bank and Stanbic Bank are proceeds of crime.
In its request to retain the funds, ARA stated that it sought orders to preserve the amounts as they are believed to be proceeds of crime.
The agency added that it suspects that the two women are part of a syndicate involved in a complex money-laundering scheme with foreigners.
“That preservation orders are hereby issued prohibiting the respondents (Wambuku and Nyamathira) and or their representatives, employees, agents, servants or any other persons acting on their behalf from transacting, withdrawing, transferring, dealing in any manner whosever in respect to the funds and any profits or benefits derived or accrued from held in the three bank accounts,” Justice Maina ordered.
She further ordered that the amounts in question be preserved for a period of 90 days as investigative agencies complete the probe and file forfeiture proceedings.
The amounts that the court has preserved are USD 631,071.67( Ksh 71M) and a Ksh37million held in two Equity bank accounts belonging to Wambuku. Another Ksh5million held at Stanbic Bank account of Nyamathira has also been preserved.
The agency, through lawyer Mohamed Adow, informed the court that in the month of August 2021, they received information of a suspected case of money laundering schemes, and proceeds of crime involving multiple money transactions conducted through the bank accounts of the two women in the USA Dollars and Kenya Shillings mainly from a foreign jurisdiction. ARA also said that the funds have no known source or legitimate explanation.
“The two women are suspected to be part of a syndicate involved in a complex money-laundering scheme involving themselves and foreign Nationals and their bank accounts are used as a conduit of complex money laundering, “Adow stated.
According to the investigating agency, Wambuku received Ksh37 million in November this year in a single transaction from one De Mesel Marc, a foreign national.
ARA also claims that Wambuku opened the bank accounts for the sole purpose of receiving the funds which the sender De Mesel Marc indicated as a gift to her.
Lawyer Adow further stated that preliminary investigations have established that the two suspects executed a complex scheme of money laundering designed to conceal, disguise the nature, source, disposition and movement of the illicit funds, suspected to constitute proceeds of crime.
“There is an imminent danger that the respondents shall dispose of, transfer and dissipate the said assets unless the court issued preservation orders as prayed in this application, “lawyer Adow argued.
According to an affidavit filed in court by investigating officer, Fredrick Musyoki says that he conducted a preliminary analysis of the bank statement accounts held at Equity Bank Limited in the name of Wambuku and has established that the bank accounts were opened on February 22, 2021.
“A preliminary analysis of the bank statement for account number 1750180591737 (USD) held at Equity Bank Limited in the name of Wambuku has established that the account received a cumulative sum of USD 909,900 in four structured transactions in the month of August 2021 in one day,” reads the affidavit.
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