A college student is at risk of losing Sh109 million after a State agency filed a formal application to have her forfeit the money for being proceeds of crime.
The Asset Recovery Agency in the application filed before the High Court in Nairobi claimed that they have completed investigations into financial accounts of Felesta Nyamathira Njoroge.
According to the agency, she is part of an international ring of fraudsters engaged in money laundering.
“We have 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.
The agency wants Njoroge’s USD914,967 (Sh104,205,591) held at Co-operative Bank and Sh5 million held at Stanbic Bank to be forfeited to the State over allegations that she was being used by her foreign partners as a conduit for the illicit funds.
ARA had in November last year obtained an order freezing Njoroge’s accounts for 90 days to complete investigations into the allegations of money laundering.
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.
“There are reasonable grounds and evidence demonstrating that the funds are direct and indirect benefits of proceeds of crime obtained from an international money laundering scheme and are liable for forfeiture to the government,” said Githinji.
The agency’s investigator Fredrick Musyoki said they discovered that Njoroge opened the dollar account at Co-operative Bank on August 2, 2021 with nil balance but within four days, the account had been credited with USD914,967 (Sh104,205,591) in four transactions.
According to the investigator, Njoroge had indicated that the money was a gift from her Belgian boyfriend Marc De Mesel.
“Our investigations established that she opened the accounts for the sole purpose of receiving the said funds which she declared the source to be from her boyfriend for her to invest in land projects and travelling,” said Musyoki.
The investigator stated that when they summoned Njoroge for questioning over her source of funds, she escaped to Tanzania by crossing the Namanga border as a pedestrian on October 2, 2021.
Musyoki added that De Mesel who was in the country at the time also escaped using the same route to Tanzania.
According to the investigator, De Mesel transferred a total of Sh650 million to five different individuals between February 2020 and August 2021 without disclosing the source of the funds.