High court freezes millions of money in three banks belonging to two foreigners over allegations of money laundering

High Court in Nairobi has issued orders to freeze over Sh287.2 million held in three bank accounts belonging to two foreigners on suspicion of being part of a money-laundering scheme.

Justice Esther Maina allowed the Assets Recovery Agency (ARA) to preserve the cash and a Mercedes Benz for 90 days pending completion of investigations.

The money is held in Stanbic Bank accounts belonging to Congolese national Venan Ma-Mabiala Mabiala and his associate Jean–Pual Tshikangu Musangu, a Belgian.

The two are directors of Groupe Elykia Ltd, a company that allegedly deals in timber but does not have a physical office or registered address in Kenya.

Investigations by ARA revealed that $5 million was wired to the company by a person named Dmitri of Vandome Company in October for the purchase of timber, which they are yet to supply.

Groupe Elykia Ltd also sent Sh39.7 million on November 16th to a company known as Car Warehouse Ltd for the purchase of a Mercedes Benz and Bentley Bentayaga. The Mercedes Benz was imported into Kenya and delivered to Musangu, but the Bentley Bentayaga is yet to arrive in the country.

“There are reasonable grounds and evidence demonstrating that the funds held by the Respondents in the specified bank account are direct or indirect benefits, profits or proceeds of crime obtained from a complex money-laundering scheme and are liable for forfeiture,” ARA told the court.

The agency believes the two foreigners use the accounts to launder money under the pretense of supplying timber obtained from DR Congo to other countries.

The first account is registered in Musangu’s name and has $305,950 (Sh34.6 million), the second account belonging to Mabiala has $488,423 (Sh55.1 million) while a third account registered in their company’s name has $1,747,105 (Sh197.4 million).

Judge Maina directed Musangu to surrender the logbook of the Mercedes Benz (KDE 033S) and the Director-General of National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) to put a caveat against the vehicle.

“That a preservation order be and are hereby issued prohibiting the respondents, their employees, agents or servants from transacting, withdrawing, transferring or dealing in any manner howsoever, in respect of any profits or benefits derived or accrued from the funds specified,” the judge said.

The matter will be mentioned on March 29th, 2022.

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