Another Sh115 million wired from Mauritius to Kenyan woman frozen

Justice Esther Maina who said a case filed by a group of individuals and two civil society organisations seeking justice for victims of the 2007/2008 post-election violence will be heard on May 7 and 8, 2018. PHOTO | ONDARI OGEGA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

The High Court has frozen approximately Sh115 million in US dollars wired to another Kenyan woman by a company registered in Mauritius, in the latest asset seize that has seen nearly Sh500 million blocked.

Justice Esther Maina froze the money belonging to Isabel Nyaguthii Wanjohi and directed Standard Chartered Bank to transfer the money to Assets Recovery Agency (ARA) for preservation, pending determination of the case.

Court documents show that the US $1 million was sent to Ms Wanjohi on April 13, by Platcorp Holdings Ltd, a company registered in Mauritius, as an unsecured loan. The purpose of the money was not disclosed and the agency intercepted it as Ms Wanjohi was about to wire it to South Africa through swift transfer.

“That the preservation orders prohibiting the respondent and or his agents or representatives from transacting, withdrawing, transferring, using and in any way dealing in respect of the USD 1 million held at Standard Chartered Bank,” the judge said.

The agency says Ms Wanjohi works for Platinum Credit ltd and no reasonable explanation was given as to why she was receiving the funds and why she wanted to transfer the money to South Africa.

According to the agency, the deposits indicate activities of money laundering and when asked to explain, Ms Wanjohi allegedly produced an agreement with Platcorp Holdings ltd claiming it was an unsecured loan.

She also produced a second agreement dated April 7, 2022, between her and Premier Credit (PTY) Ltd, where she was to loan the company a similar amount. The purpose of the loan agreement was not disclosed and no one signed as a witness.

“The investigations established that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the funds in issue are proceeds of crime obtained from illegitimate sources by the respondent which require to be preserved pending filing and hearing of an intended forfeiture application,” the agency said.

The court directed the case to be mentioned on September 12.

The order comes in the wake of the freezing of more than 260 million wired to three Kenyan women, among them a 21-year-old student, by a Belgian cryptocurrency dealer last year.

The money was wired on different dates to Tebby Wambuku Kago (Sh102) million, Felesta Nyamathia Njoroge (Sh108 million) and Jane Wangui Kago (Sh49 million) by Marc De Messel between August and November last year.

All the monies according to the agency were wired in the same manner and in tranches.

“The court be pleased to issue an order that the above funds be forfeited to the State and transferred to the Assets Recovery Agency or do make any other ancillary orders it considers appropriate to facilitate the transfer of the property forfeited to the Government,” the agency says in the petition yet to be determined.

The Belgian had indicated in the declaration documents that the money was a gift to Ms Njoroge.

Ms Njoroge says she wanted to invest the funds in several projects and she has no business explaining to ARA how she met Mr De Mesel. She says the bid by ARA the get more details about their relationship was not only illegal but also immoral.

“It is undisputed fact that the applicant is a full-time student and the subject funds were meant for her upkeep and general investment for her current and future social and economic security,” he said.