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The tale of Sh300 million stolen in Germany and traced in Kenya

By Kamau Muthoni | July 17th 2020 at 12:00:00 GMT +0300

 

A portion of Sh300 million stolen from a shipping firm in Germany has been traced to Kenya in an investigation involving German and local authorities.

Documents filed before the court and exclusively seen by The Standard, indicate that an employee of Express & Logistics Munich GmbH, Heinz Andreas Schaller, siphoned millions and wired them to two banks in Kenya.

Heinz is said to be married to Kornella Kerstain who German police believe resides in Kenya, and operates two accounts in Diani, Mombasa County.

He was in charge of all payments made by the shipping company.

In its case, the Asset Recovery Agency (ARA) wants the court to order that some Sh16 million in the two accounts be returned to Germany in forfeiture as proceeds of crime.

According to ARA, Germany’s chief public prosecutor sought Kenya’s assistance after charging Schaller for offences of breach of trust and aiding and abetting breach of trust.

The particulars of the charges are that Schaller drew fictitious invoices from suppliers and couriers, and then changed the original bank account details of the creditors to his own account and those of his wife.

“There is sufficient evidence and reasonable grounds to believe that the funds in the identified bank accounts held in the respondent’s name (Kerstain) are proceeds of crime liable for recovery by the applicant (ARA),” the agency argues.

“The sum was identical to the original entries in the payment system. The respondent herein specifically allowed her husband to use her accounts to deposit and then jointly use the money illegally obtained.”

Tobias Abondo, an investigator in the case, said the other laundered money was found in Munich Post Bank and another financial institution, Stanberg Ebersberg, where Heiz and his wife have two joint accounts.

The court in Kenya froze Kerstain’s accounts in 2016 and the same was gazetted on October 4, 2019, which paved way for the forfeiture case. She never responded to the application to freeze the accounts.

Abondo argues: “Unless the court grants the orders sought, the economic advantage derived from the commission of crimes will continue to benefit a few to the disadvantage of the national security, the economy and the general public.”

Siphon money

By the time Germany’s prosecutor was going after Schaller’s accounts, he was was at large and believed to have been in Kenya. 

According to court records, Schaller managed to siphon his employer’s money from January 2008 to May 31, 2013. Over this period alone, he is said to have walked away with approximately Sh300 million.

At the time, the firm was making unexplained losses, with debtors on its neck for unpaid dues. After scrutinising its records, it discovered that the money was being wired to Schaller’s accounts.

The prosecutor said that Schaller is wanted in Germany for aiding and abetting commercial fraud.

A court in Germany authorised its state prosecutor to go after the two, noting that they cannot be allowed to benefit from theft.


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