The High Court's anti-corruption division has ordered the freezing of bank accounts belonging to Tebby Wambuku Kago, a friend to Felista Njoroge - the 21-year-old who grabbed national headlines after receiving over Ksh100 million from her Belgian boyfriend.
The order was made by Justice Esther Maina after the Assets Recovery Agency (ARA) found Ksh102.8 million in Tebby's account. The judge also ordered the freezing of Ksh5 million in Felista's other bank account, believed to be from the same source.
The court was told by ARA that the amounts were suspected to be proceeds of crime, as the owners could not satisfy the agency on the source of the money.
ARA informed the court that on diverse dates, Tebby received Ksh102.8 million and Ksh37 million between August 10, 2021, and early November 2021.
However, upon accessing Tebby's bank account, ARA learned that the Ksh37 million had disappeared and could not be traced, thus seeking for the freezing of the remaining amount, a request that the court agreed to.
"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 whatsoever in respect to the funds and any profits or benefits derived or accrued from held in the three bank account," the court ordered.
The missing amount is reported to have been distributed to friends and relatives of the suspects, an activity meant to conceal their action from the Central Bank of Kenya.
Records presented to the court indicated that the amount was deposited into the account by Felista's Belgian boyfriend, Marc De Mesel, a cryptocurrency expert, who had made another deposit of Ksh102 million to Felista in November.
Investigating officer Fredrick Musyoki noted that Tebby opened her bank account in February 2021 as a self-employed businesswoman, but the amount that came in was suspicious as it did not depict a business source.
The court was also told that authorities received intelligence information that there were two women involved in money laundering schemes, where they received money from foreign jurisdictions while they could not substantiate the legitimacy of the source.
"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," said ARA lawyer.
Felister, who was the first victim of ARA, had her account containing Ksh102.5 million frozen for 90 days, to give the agency adequate time to trace and establish the source of the money.
The court agreed to freeze the account after ARA proved to the court that the funds were proceeds of crime and other economic crimes since Felista failed to cooperate with the investigating officers.
The recovery agency informed the court that the student chose to send her lawyers who failed to pay attention to pertinent issues raised, and failed to honour subsequent summons.
The Belgian who was contacted to explain the purpose of the money sent claimed that he was involved in a romantic relationship with the recipient and the money was meant to facilitate her financial stability in the future.
Felista has since filed an application in court seeking the unfreezing of her accounts, but ARA maintains that it is seeking to compel her to forfeit the money to the government.
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