Mystery woman in Sh102 million saga skips date with ARA

Belgian Marc De Mesel and his girlfriend Felstus Wanjiru.

Belgian Marc De Mesel and his girlfriend Felstus Wanjiru.

Photo credit: Pool I Nation Media Group

A woman is on the brink of losing Sh102 million she received from a Belgian man after she failed to show up at the Asset Recovery Agency (ARA) for identification, deepening the mystery about her identity and whereabouts. 

Ms Felister Nyamathira Njoroge is likely to lose the money to the state, with authorities claiming the money is proceeds of financial crimes.

She was required to appear before the ARA for processing by officers from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) after another woman emerged claiming to be her and laying claim to the funds and the bank accounts holding the money.

To solve the puzzle, the High Court had ordered both women to appear at the ARA. The money had been wired by Mr Marc De Mesel, a Belgian YouTube personality and cryptocurrency enthusiast, in August last year. He had also wired Sh257 million to three other women — Tabby Wambuku Kago (Sh108 million), Jane Wangui Kago (Sh49 million), Serah Wambui (Sh100 million).

The High Court had ordered lawyers for the two women who both claim to be Ms Njoroge and recipients of the funds, to produce them at the ARA for identification. But none of them showed up, prompting the court to allow the ARA to proceed with the cash-freeze suit where it is seeking the court’s nod for the money to be forfeited to the state on grounds that it is proceeds of money laundering.

Separate applications

On Thursday, Justice Maina dismissed the women’s separate applications to lift the interim preservation orders and to bar the ARA from forfeiting the funds. The millions were deposited in an account at Co-operative Bank in four transactions between August 4 and August 6, 2021. The recipient has all along remained faceless, despite the cash-freeze suit filed by the ARA.

The Belgian wired $229,980 on August 4, followed by $231,980 the following day. On August 6, Mr Mesel wired $224,980 and then $227,980. The account is in the name of Felister Nyamathira Njoroge.

In the transaction declaration documents, the Belgian had indicated that Ms Njoroge, a Nairobi Technical Institute student, was “free to use the money to secure financial security for our future children”.

However, Ms Njoroge’s identity came into question on January 26, this year, after two sets of advocates clashed in court and were talking about two different people. The mystery deepened further when the lawyers gave conflicting reports on the whereabouts of the woman they were each representing.

One team of lawyers, led by Mr Walter Owaga, told the court that their client had left the country in July 2021 and was yet to return. He said she was pregnant. The other team, led by Mr Thomas Maosa, said their client was in Kenya and has never travelled out of the country. The case was called out yesterday for mention but only one advocate, Mr Owaga, was in court.