Several bank accounts prosecution says were used as conduits for looting more than Sh1 billion from the National Youth Service have been frozen.
Justice Jessie Lessit issued the orders following an application by the Assets Recovery Agency claiming that beneficiaries of the stolen public funds were colluding with banks to withdraw all the money and destroy evidence linking them to the scandal.
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Among the accounts frozen are those held by Firstling Supplies Limited at Standard Chartered Bank, four accounts at Diamond Trust Bank operated by Sahara Consultant, Sheela Mbogo, Stephanie Mbogo, Shalom Kamweti and another account at Consolidated Bank operated by Ersatz Enterprises.
Justice Lessit also ordered the freezing of 10 accounts at Equity Bank belonging to Lilian Wanja Muthoni trading as Sahara Consultants, James Thuita Mwangi, Lidi Holdings Limited, Lidi Estates Limited, Ameri Traders, Interscope Tech and Services, Flagstone Company Limited and Ellywn Supplies.
“I hereby issue orders freezing the named accounts for 90 days to enable investigating officer to complete investigations,” ruled Lessit.
She allowed the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission investigators to inspect and preserve the funds in the accounts so they are not withdrawn until after three months.
The judge directed the banks to supply investigators with details of the accounts from January 2015 to last May.
In the case of Firstling Supplies Ltd’s account at Standard Chartered Bank, the Asset Recover Commission, through lawyer Jennifer Gitiri, claimed they had credible information that the company received part of the Sh1 billion looted from NYS for services not rendered.
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According to the lawyer, investigations into the theft at NYS were complex and required more time, which justified the request for three months' freezing of the accounts.
The Asset Recovery Agency told the court Sahara Consultant, Sheela, Stephanie and Kamweti colluded with NYS staff to fleece millions of shillings which they deposited at the Diamond Trust Bank accounts.