A man charged with stashing fake currency worth Sh2 billion in a safe deposit box now claims that the bills are genuine.
Eric Adede (pictured), in an urgent suit filed at the High Court, instead accused the State’s investigative and prosecutorial agencies of switching his dollar bills with fake notes to paint him as a money launderer.
“It is true I am the owner of the box held at Barclays Bank which contained a total of $20,067,900 in 100-dollar denomination, among other items. The DCI knows that the money is not fake and is illegally withholding it without any authority,” swore Adede.
The suspect, who sought orders to compel the Director of Criminal Investigations and the Director of Public Prosecutions to surrender the seized money, claimed there was a plot to defraud him of his property.
Adede’s lawyer, Martin Oloo, told the court that the DCI and the DPP had cooked up the story that his client had fake currency “to boost their public image”.
Mr Oloo claimed that the money did not form part of the criminal charges laid out against Adede.
“The prosecutors in their submissions in court stated that the money held does not form part of the prosecution. The petitioner fears that they might tamper with his clean money and substitute it with fake ones to deprive him of his hard-earned property,” said Oloo.
Adede was last month charged alongside Ahmed Shah, Irene Wairimu Kimani and Elizabeth Muthoni with several counts in connection with the suspected forged dollar bills and fake gold recovered inside the bank’s Queensway branch in Nairobi.
The charges stated that on March 19, the suspects conspired to defraud Muriithi Materi Mbuthia of Sh20 million by falsely pretending they were carrying out a genuine business as investors in Nairobi.
Adede faced two additional charges of possessing the fake dollars and being found in possession of 41.373 kilos of brass in contravention of the Mining Act.
The Nairobi-based businessman-cum-politician and his co-accused were arraigned in court where a magistrate detained them for five days to allow police complete investigations.
This after investigators told the court that they needed to send the recovered currency to document examiners and forensic experts to ascertain if it was fake or genuine.
The verification process also involved the Central Bank of Kenya and the Department of Mining to confirm authenticity of seized metal that was suspected to be fake gold.
According to police, the fake currency had been used to con unsuspecting people before officers busted the counterfeiting ring and arrested the suspects.
Barclays Bank, in a statement, denied knowledge of the fake money stashed in the safe deposit box. Bank officials said they were not aware that one of their customers had hidden counterfeit bills, which was against the bank’s rules and regulations.
The officials said they normally don’t know what customers store in their personal safe deposit boxes.