State investigators are working around the clock to decipher a complicated international money laundering operation involving foreigners who wired nearly half a billion shillings to five Kenyan women in less than a year.
According to records submitted in court by the Asset Recovery Agency (ARA), the money is largely from Belgium and Mauritius and is in US dollars and Euro currencies.
Since then, the agency has filed additional cash-freeze lawsuits against the ladies, as well as interim preservation orders prohibiting them from accessing the funds, which they allege are gifts and loans. The ARA is conducting investigations to determine the source of the funds.
Felista Nyamathira Njoroge, Tabby Wambuku Kago, Jane Wangui Kago, and Serah Nyamathira Njoroge are among the ladies defending the gifts and loans.
According to investigators, the foreigner arrived in Kenya in 2017 and lived along Nairobi’s Thika Road until fleeing to Tanzania in 2021 after finding he was on the police radar. He then went on a binge of wiring money into the women’s bank accounts, turning them into multi-millionaires.
Ms Wambuku was awarded KSh108 million, Ms Njoroge was awarded KSh109 million, Ms Wangui was awarded KSh49 million, and Ms Wambui was awarded KSh100 million. The women claimed to be involved romantically with the Belgian millionaire.
Ms Njoroge defended the funds, claiming that ARA was violating her privacy because the funds were a gift from her partner (a Belgiun national), who she claimed had also caused her to become pregnant. She further claimed that the money was earned legitimately through her relationships and enterprises.
on Ms. Wangui
Because the beneficiaries are all young ladies with no known history of significant business or work that might create such cash, ARA believes the money transferred to them all is the result of an organized money laundering organization.
For example, according to ARA, Ms Wambuku listed herself as self-employed on her bank account creation documentation, yet the account’s transaction history revealed and depicted no other transactions other than what it received from De Mesel Marc.
According to court documents, “preliminary investigations have proven Ms Wambuku opened the suspect account for the sole intention of receiving the abovementioned cash, which the sender described as a gift from him.”
All of the funds were transmitted in the same way, in tranches, through several Stanbic bank accounts.
There was no credible explanation given for why she was receiving the monies and why she wished to send them to South Africa.
Ms Wanjohi allegedly provided an agreement with Platcorp Holdings ltd, stating it was an unsecured loan, when pressed to clarify.
ARA questioned the answer, claiming that Platcorps Holdings Limited is a microfinance lender with no competence to give a single person Sh115 million without security.
After receiving information about suspected money laundering schemes and proceeds of crime involving several money transfers conducted through the receivers’ bank accounts in foreign currencies, ARA jumped into action.
Kenya looks to have taken a step back in the fight against money laundering, according to a new US assessment released in March 2022.