Mystery Belgian who sent millions to his girlfriends on the run from agency detectives

Belgian Marc De Mesel and his girlfriend Felista Njoroge. [File, Standard]

Marc De Mesel, the Belgian businessman at the centre of an alleged international money laundering syndicate remains a mystery just like his Kenyan girlfriends that he gifted more than Sh650 million.

In several suits filed by the Asset Recovery Agency seeking to reclaim the funds he gifted his Kenyan girlfriends, he was described as the mastermind of an international crime syndicate seeking to recruit young women aged between 19-26 years.

ARA detectives who have been on his trail since October 2021 claim that they have not been able to locate him after escaping to Tanzania with one of his girlfriends Felista Njoroge.

“He remains a mystery since we cannot locate him to shed light on the source of his funds. He crossed from Kenya to Tanzania through the Namanga border as a pedestrian. He is a person of interest who we suspect is recruiting young Kenyan girls into an international crime racket,” said ARA.

Although the Belgian had indicated he is a cryptocurrency dealer, the agency argues that he uses the claims to disguise his sources of funds and suspect him to be an international criminal who is using his Kenyan victims to cleanse the dirty money.

From documents filed in court by the agency, De Mesel came silently to Kenya sometime in 2017 where he met with his two girlfriends, had a child with one and eloped with the other while she was pregnant.

It also emerged that he stayed with his ‘two’ wives at close proximity along Thika Road, one at Garden City Estate and another at Roysambu Estate.

Some of the apartments at the Garden City Estate in Nairobi. Marc De Mesel stayed with his ‘two’ wives at close proximity along Thika Road, one at Garden City Estate and another at Roysambu Estate. [File, Standard]

The families of the two girls also had no problem with De Mesel marrying them after they introduced him so long as they benefitted from his millions which he dished out to them for personal use.

What is more astounding is the identities and whereabouts of the five individuals, Ms Njoroge, Tebby Wambuku Kago, Jane Wambui Kago, Serah Wambui Kamanda and Timothy Waigwa Kiwanja who he made multi-millionaires in a span of one year.

At one point during the hearing of a case where ARA is seeking to compel Ms Njoroge to forfeit Sh109 million she received from De Mesel, her whereabouts became mysterious as two different law firms fought to represent her.

Whereas lawyer Thomas Maosa claimed she is in the country and that they had presented her before ARA to record a statement, lawyer Walter Owaga claimed that the real Ms Njoroge was out of the country and is pregnant.

This forced Justice Esther Maina to suspend her case for 90 days with orders that both lawyers present the person they are claiming to be Ms Njoroge before the Director of Criminal Investigations for fingerprinting to establish her true identity.

Revelations about De Mesel’s secret deals of money laundering came to the fore when ARA filed the first suit against Ms Njoroge seeking to have her forfeit Sh109 million for being proceeds of crime.

In several suits filed by the Asset Recovery Agency seeking to reclaim the funds Marc De Mesel gifted his Kenyan girlfriends. [File, Standard]

“We discovered that she is part of a syndicate involving complex money laundering schemes with individuals from various countries including Belgium from where she received the money on the pretext that it was a gift from her boyfriend,” said ARA through lawyer Stephen Githinji.

Githinji told the court that after completing investigations, they have established that the 21-year-old student at Nairobi Technical Training Institute executed a complex scheme of money laundering designed to conceal and disguise the nature and sources of her funds.

The agency’s investigator Fredrick Musyoki swore that they discovered that Ms Njoroge opened an account at Co-Operative Bank on August 2, 2021, with nil balance but within four days, she received USD914,967 (Sh104,205,591) and another Sh5 million in a separate account.

Musyoki stated that a confirmation of the gift by De Mesel indicated that he fully granted Ms Njoroge the absolute right of the money to build financial security for her and their future children.

“I hereby admit that she will be the full and absolute legal owner of the gifted money and even though I hope she builds financial security for herself and our future children, she will be free to use the gifted amount as per her own will,” De Mesel declared.

According to the investigator, De Mesel and Ms Njoroge opted to flee the country when summoned to explain the source of the funds which made them believe they are part of an international criminal syndicate.

Then came Tebby Wambuku Kago, the second girlfriend of the Belgian who the agency claims received Sh108 million as a gift.

Wambuku, aged 24, in her statement, told ARA that she met De Mesel while at Pirates public beach in Mombasa in 2017 while in the company of her elder sister (Jane Wambui Kago) and became friends.

Holidaymakers having fun at Pirates Public Beach in Mombasa on December 25, 2021. Tebby Wambuku, aged 24, in her statement, told ARA that she met Marc De Mesel while at Pirates public beach in Mombasa in 2017 while in the company of her elder sister (Jane Wambui Kago) and became friends. [Kelvin Karani, Standard]

They then started dating and she introduced him to her family who had no objection to them getting married.

In February 2018, they decided to move in as husband and wife where they rented an apartment in Garden City and had one child.

ARA in the suit against Wambuku claims that in August last year, she received USD909,900 (Sh102.8 million) and another Sh37 million in early November 2021 from the Belgian which raised suspicion over her sudden wealth.

ARA lawyer Mohamed Adow told the court that Wambuku is a beneficiary of dirty money from foreign jurisdiction whose source has no legitimate explanation.

“We suspect that she is part of a syndicate of complex money laundering scheme involving foreign nationals where their bank accounts are used as conduits of the illicit funds. The scheme is designed to conceal, disguise the nature and source of the funds,” said Adow.

According to ARA, Wambuku stated in the bank opening statements that she is self-employed but that the deposits in her accounts do not show any other source of income apart from the money received from De Mesel.

Wambuku elder sister Jane Wambui Kago, 26, was also brought to the mix by De Mesel who gifted her Sh49 million to expand her salon business and go for a holiday in Portugal.

According to the suit against her, ARA claims that she received the money from De Mesel in two batches of Sh3.1 million and 355,990 Euros (Sh45.6 million).

“We have established that she is part of the international money laundering syndicate in which Marc De Mesel is the kingpin. They have been disguising the source of funds to conceal the fact that they are proceeds of crime which are liable for forfeiture to the state,” said ARA.

When ARA summoned Wangui to explain how she suddenly became a millionaire, she narrated how they met with the Belgian in November 2017 while they were at Pirates Public Beach in Mombasa.

Wangui said from the encounter, De Mesel approached Wambugu and she gave them time to talk but didn’t know what they discussed only to realise later in 2018 that they had moved in as husband and wife.

Her first gift of Sh5 million was transferred to her account at Standard Chartered Bank by her sister as an appreciation to start a business.

She stated that in May 2021, De Mesel asked if she wanted to travel to Portugal for a holiday after which she was instructed to open an account and within a week, she received 355,000 Euros (Sh44,888,167).

Wangui said she received another Sh20 million from De Mesel through her sister who she sent her mother to build a house.

De Mesel did not stop at having Ms Njoroge and Ms Wambugu as her girlfriends. He also pounced on Serah Wambui Kamanda who then introduced her cousin Timothy Waigwa Kiwanja into the alleged money laundering syndicate.

Kiwanja, a construction and management student at Kirinyaga University in his statement to ARA said he had escorted Wambui to Aga Khan Hospital in 2019 and while they were having coffee at the hotel, De Mesel joined them.

“My cousin introduced him as her boyfriend and after some discussions, he told me he wanted to employ me as his personal assistant at a salary of Sh50,000 per month,” said Kiwanja.

In early 2021, Kiwanja told investigators that De Mesel asked him if he wanted money to invest after which the Belgian gifted him Sh47 million without breaking a sweat.

ARA however contends that his money was part of the proceeds of international crime and have also filed a suit to have the amount forfeited to the state.

ARA claims that the five Kenyans are beneficiaries of illicit funds which they should not be allowed to enjoy and which must be forfeited to the state.

As the agency continues with the hunt for De Mesel to question him over his sources of wealth, Ms Njoroge, Wambugu, Wangui, Wambui and Kiwanja who became millionaires overnight are fighting to be allowed to access their funds which were frozen following the applications by ARA.