City tycoon sues banking fraud unit for blocking his access to financial services

[Courtesy]

A city tycoon has sued the banking fraud unit for blacklisting him over allegations of money laundering and dealing in proceeds from crime.

James Kinyanjui, the proprietor of the multi-billion shilling Edenville Estate on Kiambu Road, is accusing the Banking Fraud Investigation Department of illegally issuing a directive to banks to stop dealing with him, thereby denying him opportunity to trade and meet business obligations.

“I have been to several banks and have been informed that the banking fraud unit circulated my name under the proceeds of crime and anti-money laundering laws leading to the blacklisting. I cannot therefore transact or secure any funding for my businesses,” said Mr Kinyanjui.

Apart from Edenville Estate, Kinyanjui owns the Torino Roses and Geminia Insurance Company. He also engages in import and export, wholesale pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, road and airfreight as well as oil industry businesses.

Challenged decision

His companies are spread in Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria, South Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda.

In 2015, the Banking Fraud Investigations Unit sought to freeze Kinyanjui’s accounts on allegations of money laundering and stashing billions of shillings in foreign accounts. Within 2015 alone, the unit claimed that Kinyanjui had laundered more than Sh150 million.

He, however, challenged the decision to freeze his accounts. In 2016, the High Court stopped police or Director of Public Prosecutions from freezing his accounts.

Kinyanjui says despite the High Court order, the banking fraud unit is still suspecting him of engaging in money laundering.

His lawyer Kelvin Mogeni submitted that even after making a demand to the banking unit to withdraw the circular to banks, the blacklist order was still in place and many banks had refused to deal with him for fear of being victimised. He wants the court to issue an order restraining the banking unit from sending the red alert to banks.

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