Assets Recovery Agency seeking court orders to freeze the cash held at Co-operative Bank
The Assets Recovery Agency is going after a college student with over Sh100 million in her bank account that is suspected to be proceeds of crime and money laundering.
The agency has moved to court seeking orders to freeze the account of Felesta Nyamathira Njoroge that has Sh102,654,024 at the Co-operative Bank of Kenya.
Felesta, 21, and a Kenyan citizen, is a student at Nairobi Technical Training Institute.
Detectives established she is the sole signatory and beneficial owner of the bank account under investigation.
The funds were deposited to her account in four split transactions in a span of three days from August 4 to August 6, 2021.
Felesta says the cash was deposited to her account by her boyfriend De Mesel Marc, a Belgian, as gift.
On August 4, he deposited Sh25,803,756 to Felesta’s account 02100705531800 held at Co-operative Bank.
The following day, the man deposited another Sh26,028,156 to the same account before making double deposits of Sh25,242,756 and Sh25,579,356 on August 6.
Detectives have established that the bank account was opened in August 2021, meaning it must have been opened not more than four days before the first millions were received.
The assets agency says the account held no cash before the suspicious transactions were made.
Felesta had five other accounts at Co-operative Bank. They are 22100705531800, 03100705531800, 011008705531800, 01132705531800 and 01150705531800.
“Preliminary investigations have established the respondent opened the suspect account for the sole purpose of receiving the said funds which she declared the source to be from “my boyfriend” and the purpose as investing in land projects and safaris,” the affidavit by the assets agency reads.
While the money is said to have been sent for projects, De Marc said in a declaration form that Felesta was free to use the funds as she wishes.
“That I hereby admit that the donee will be full and absolute legal owner of the gifted money and even though I hope that she builds financial security for herself and our future children, she will be free to use the said gifted amount as per her own will,” the affidavit reads.
The agency says Felesta was summoned on October 18 to explain and shed light on the suspicious transactions but failed to show up.
Instead, the detectives received a letter from Ndindi and Nadida Advocates saying the summons to Felesta was vague. The lawyers asked the detectives for ‘better and proper particulars of the alleged offence with regards to what information you wish to acquire from our client.’
They said a better explanation would help them advise Felesta on what documentation ‘she needs to bring with her’.
Two days later, the lawyers wrote to the detectives saying their client was out of the country.
“We would like to inform you that our client, Felesta, is currently not in Kenya and in fact left the country on October 2, 2021….we do not have information on when our client will be coming back to Kenya.”
Since then, the agency says it has not received any communication or explanation from the respondent on the source and purpose of the funds received to her account.
Authorities say they suspect Felesta to be part of a syndicate involved in complex money laundering schemes that included individuals from foreign jurisdictions.
“There are reasonable grounds to suspect the funds held in account number 02100705531800 held at Co-operative Bank in the name of the respondent, are illicit funds in which the respondent is involved in a money laundering scheme, designed to conceal and disguise the nature, source location and movement of the funds,” the affidavit reads.
The agency says Felesta’s bank account was used as a conduit for money laundering. It wants orders to freeze the cash in the account.
The agency says there is imminent risk the funds may be withdrawn, transferred or dissipated if the preservation orders are not granted. The agency believes ongoing investigations into possible money laundering will be greatly prejudiced.
“Unless this honourable court grants the orders sought, the economic advantage derived from the commission of crimes will continue to benefit a few at the disadvantage of the general public interest,” says the affidavit sworn by investigating officer Fredrick Musyoki.
State counsel S. Githinji in an affidavit dated November 16 says it is in the interest of justice that the orders to freeze Felesta’s bank account should be granted.
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