Where is Felista Nyamathira? Mystery of millionaire student's whereabouts

Felista Nyamathira’s whereabouts remains unclear. [File, Standard]

The High Court in Nairobi was treated to drama over the whereabouts of a college student at the centre of Sh102 million alleged money-laundering scheme.

This happened as six lawyers from two different law firms fought to represent Felista Nyamathira Njoroge, 21, who is suspected to be part of an international money-laundering syndicate with her Belgian boyfriend, Marc De Mesel.

Whereas one set of lawyers claimed Nyamathira is in the country, and that they took her to the Assets Recovery Agency (ARA) to record a statement, the other law firm stated that the student is out of the country and is expectant.

Trouble started when lawyer Thomas Maosa told Justice Esther Maina that they have instructions from Nyamathira to represent her, and had gone ahead to file submissions on her defence.

Maosa, who appeared alongside PLO Lumumba and a Mr Nyangoro, claimed that Nyamathira is in the country, and that they had presented her to ARA to record a statement on how she received the money from her Belgian boyfriend.

“Ms Njoroge is in the country and we took her to ARA, but she did not record a statement. She instructed us to represent her, and we don’t know where the other lawyers are coming from. We are ready to present her again to confirm she is in the country,” said Maosa.

But the other lawyers, led by Walter Owaga, claimed they are the ones with instructions to represent the Nairobi Technical Training Institute student.

According to Owaga, who appeared alongside a Mr Ndindi and Nadida, Nyamathira, who they claim is out of the country, was not aware that she was being represented by other advocates as claimed by Maosa.

“The real Felista is out of the country, and she is heavily pregnant. We shall take instructions guided by her doctor and provide evidence of her pregnancy. We will consider availing (sic) her in the country if the court orders so,” said Owaga.

ARA, through lawyer Mohamed Adow, waded into the mystery of Njoroge’s whereabouts, arguing that it seemed the two teams of lawyers were not talking about the same person.

Adow confirmed that Maosa had presented a lady they claimed was Nyamathira to the agency, but since Owaga was claiming that she was not the real Felista, the lawyers should both present the person they are claiming to be her before the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) for finger print processing.

Justice Maina agreed to the request, and ordered the lawyers to present to the DCI the person they claim to be the student.

“The case shall remain suspended for a period of ninety days to allow the lawyers to present the said Felista Nyamaitha Njoroge, who they represent before the DCI for fingerprinting as requested by ARA,” ruled Maina.

Last year, ARA obtained orders freezing the student’s account on suspicion that she was engaging in money-laundering.

The agency claimed the Sh102.5 million frozen in her accounts were suspiciously deposited in her account in four transactions between August 4 and August 6, 2021.

According to the agency, the money was sent to Nyamathira’s account by De Mesel, a cryptocurrency trader, believed to be her boyfriend.

But in her response, which was filed through Maosa, Nyamathira denied any involvement in financial misconduct and money-laundering.

She accused ARA of painting her in bad light as a person engaged in economic crimes, and that their claims were speculative.

Justice Maina scheduled further hearings on May 16, when the DCI will be expected to present a report on who the real Felista Nyamathira Njoroge is.