Student defends Sh102m fortune, tells court she has right to enjoy it

Belgian businessman Marc De Mesel (right) with Felista Nyamathira Njoroge. [Courtesy]

A college student whose Sh100 million account was frozen has gone to court seeking to get her money back.

Felista Nyamathira Njoroge accused the Asset Recovery Agency of engaging in a witch-hunt and invading her privacy.

“I have the capacity to engage in business and develop relationships to make money. I am lawfully entitled to my funds held at my bank account since the agency obtained the sweeping orders freezing the account without asking me where I received the funds from,” Ms Njoroge said.

She filed an urgent application asking the High Court to set aside an order stopping her from withdrawing the money from her account held at Co-operative Bank of Kenya.

Through lawyer Thomas Maosa, the 21-year-old student at Nairobi Technical Training Institute said the agency misled the court about her sources of funds, “which she could have explained had they contacted her before moving to court.”

“The agency’s decision to seek the freezing orders was an infringement to her economic rights. It was actuated by malice since no explanation was sought regarding the sources of her funds,” said Mr Maosa.

Njoroge in her affidavit to support the application swore that she is not engaged in any financial misconduct or money laundering, and that she can explain how she acquired the Sh102.5 million.

She accused the ARA of painting her in bad light “as a person engaged in economic crimes, and that their claims are speculative since they have not linked her to any form of corruption and money laundering.”

“They did not undertake due diligence to find out how the money was transferred to my account. They are interfering with my economic rights to have money and have not even afforded me opportunity to explain myself.”

Njoroge said the agency is trying to connect her with crimes she has not committed when she is just a law-abiding college student who genuinely acquired the money through her businesses and relationship.

Justice Esther Maina directed her to serve the application seeking to lift the orders on ARA for them to respond before the next hearing scheduled for December 8.

ARA had on November 17 obtained orders freezing the student’s account on suspicion that she was engaged in money laundering. The agency had claimed that the Sh102.5 million was deposited in her account in four transactions between August 4 and August 6, 2021.

According to documents filed in court by ARA, the money was sent to Njoroge’s account by Belgian businessman Marc De Mesel, who is suspected to be her boyfriend.

The Belgian, who is believed to be a cryptocurrency specialist, indicated in the declaration documents that Njoroge was “free to use the money to secure financial security for our future children” and that she could use the money on anything she wished to do.

ARA says Njoroge indicated to the bank that she would use the money to travel and buy land.

The agency said it had asked Njoroge to shed light on the source of the money, but she instead referred them to her lawyers who did not offer sufficient explanation to her sudden riches.