A British businessman has been ordered to forfeit Sh53 million to the state after the High Court declared that the funds are proceeds of crime.
Justice Esther Maina ruled that Anton Ryan Cornelius through his company African Confidence Limited has been engaging in international money laundering and cannot be allowed to benefit from the proceeds.
“He has funds in his accounts which could not be explained other than on the basis that it was the proceeds of a money laundering scheme. The income and capital gains accruing from the funds are also proceeds of crime which must be forfeited to the state,” ruled Justice Maina.
The judge directed that the Sh53,195,059 held in three accounts at Diamond Trust Bank registered in the names of Cornelius and his company be transferred to the accounts of Asset Recovery Agency (ARA) on behalf of the government.
The judge found that there was proof that the Briton’s money originated from Pakistan then transferred to Mauritius where a red flag was raised before he hurriedly transferred the amount to Kenya in a bid to disguise and conceal the source.
She said that the movement of money by the Briton, registration of different companies in the jurisdictions where he traded with those funds and the sheer amount of those funds warranted an explanation of the source of funds but he failed to do so when cornered by the state agency.
“This court has no reason to doubt that he is a man of great business acumen as demonstrated in the manner he invested the funds. However, the crux of this case is not the capital gains but the source of those funds out of which the income and capital gains were accumulated,” ruled Maina.
ARA in its suit against Cornelius claimed that he incorporated African Confidence Limited to trade in motor cycle seat covers but received USD1,101,792 (Sh167,472,384) in the company account within a few months.
“Investigations established that transactional activities in the account held by African Confidence Ltd at DTB Bank are inconsistent with the nature of his declared business. There is no way a company dealing with motorcycles seat covers could make over Sh100 million in less than a year,” said ARA.
The Agency said that the Briton was using the company as a conduit of dirty money from outside the country.
ARA told the court that Cornelius could not give a clear description on the source of the funds as at one time he said the money was from the sale and transfer of a family land but in another instance said the funds were proceeds of the closure of his personal account at JP Morgan Bank in the US.
The agency said their investigations established that Cornelius was the sole director and shareholder of Jossimba Limited which was incorporated in Seychelles and the company has an offshore bank account at Bank One Limited in Mauritius which was used to launder the money.
ARA stated that although the Briton had indicated that the money was from the sale of a family land in Kilifi, investigations established that no such land existed and the document he supplied did not belong to him.
“He was not even a party to the purported sale of the land and when asked further, he changed the narrative saying he was only a contact person for the seller and that the amount was deposited in his account by the alleged buyer,” said ARA.