State seeks to recover Sh238m seized at JKIA
The High Court has ordered the freezing of Sh238 million seized by the Kenyan Revenue Authority (KRA) from a Kenyan passenger at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) last week.
The money in US currency will remain in a bank account held by the Assets Recovery Agency (ASA) for 90 days as police investigate whether it was earned from crime.
The money was intercepted in the cargo shipping area of JKIA as it was being reshipped to London, United Kingdom, by the passenger, Andrew Kipkemboi, who had travelled from Bujumbura, Burundi.
He is an agent of Brinks Global Service-Kenya and Brinks Kenya Ltd.
ASA received the nod from High Court Judge Esther Maina to keep the money pending the determination of a case that involves claims of money laundering.
"An order of preservation and seizure of 2 million US Dollars found in possession of Brinks Global Service Kenya and Brinks Kenya Limited be deposited in the Assets Recovery Agency preservation USD Account held at Kenya Commercial Bank. The order shall remain in force for a period of 90 days," Justice Maina ruled.
ASA had told the judge that it suspected the money was a direct or indirect benefit or proceeds of crime obtained from a complex money laundering scheme.
Through lawyer Adow Mohamed, the agency told the court that customs and border control officers had noted an export entry in the course of their work.
The entry had been lodged to export the money from Kenya to the UK. The consignor was indicated as Brinks Kenya Ltd while the consignee was Brinks Global Services UK but declared as exiting Kenya.
ASA added that the money originated from Bujumbura and was destined to Kenya but was intercepted as it was being reshipped to the UK without declaration. This raised suspicions of money laundering.
“We established that the respondents, while attempting to send the funds to London, UK, indicated that the origin of the funds in issue is Kenya and concealed its origin, which was Bujumbura, Burundi,” ASA said.
In an affidavit, ASA investigating officer Fredrick Musyoki said that he and his colleagues Isaac Naikatare and Daniel Leyian had taken a statement from Mr Kipkemboi.
"Investigations established that the agent of the two firms, Andrew Kipkemboi, declared the said cash on arrival from Bujumbura as its destination Kenya and left with the same through the passenger arrival terminal," the officer told the court.
Mr Musyoki said Mr Kipkemboi told the officers that in 2014 he was approached by a person known to him by the name Gikonyo Mwangi, who asked him if he would join his company, called Brinks Global Services.
Mr Kipkemboi accepted a job offer as Brinks Global Services branch administrator.
He said he had made trips to Burundi on five other occasions to collect bank notes, all amounting to $2 million per trip.
Mr Kipkemboi also said he had made four trips to Bujumbura in January, February, October and December 2021.
The last trip was on February 15 this year, when he collected bank notes amounting to $2 million dollars and brought it to Kenya.