ARA wants Sh289m, Mercedes Benz seized from Congolese forfeited to State

State agency now wants Sh289 million in three bank accounts and a Mercedes Benz seized from a Congolese and his Belgian associate surrendered to the government.

Assets Recovery Agency (ARA) says in an application that the money held at accounts in Stanbic bank belonging to Venan Ma-Mabiala Mabiala, a Congolese and Jean–Paul Tshikangu Musangu, a Belgian are proceeds of money-laundering.

The suspects are directors of Groupe Elykia Limited, a company that claims to deal in timber but does not have an address in the country.

ARA wants the money and Mercedes Benz of registration KDE 033S owned by Mr Musangu declared proceeds of crime and therefore liable for forfeiture to the State.

Justice Esther Maina gave orders freezing the money last year but ARA now wants the money forfeited to the government. The agency said that the respondents “have not tendered any reasonable evidence to show that they are engaged in any legitimate business”.

One of the accounts registered in Mr Musangu’s name has $305,950 (Sh34.6 million), a second account belonging to Mr Mabiala has $488,423 (Sh55.1 million) while a third account registered in their company’s name (Groupe Elykia) has $1,747,105 (Sh197.4 million).

ARA says in the application that the two directors executed a complex scheme of money laundering designed to conceal the nature, source, disposition, and movement of the illicit funds.

Evidence presented by the Agency in court showed that the company received $5 million from a Mr Dmitri of Vandome Company in October, for the purchase of timber, which they did not supply.

“Investigations have established that upon receipt of the suspects’ funds, the Respondents withdrew in cash or transferred to multiple accounts owned by themselves or their associates,” ARA investigating officer Mr Fredrick Musyoki said.

“There are reasonable grounds to believe that the suspects’ bank accounts were used as conduits of money laundering in an effort to conceal disguise the nature, source, disposition, and movement of the illicit funds.”

In his statement, Mr Musangu said that Groupe Elykia Limited sells timber but is yet to do any contract in the country.

The other director Mr Mabiala confirmed to the court that their company does not have premises to sell timber or a registered physical address but is a legitimate entity.

“Groupe Elykia Limited has never imported any timber from Congo DR or any other country to Kenya,” said Mr Mabiala in the recorded statement.

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