The High Court has allowed the government to take away a Ksh102 million love gift wired to a 23-year-old student Felista Nyamathira Njoroge by her overseas billionaire boyfriend.
In a judgement rendered by Esther Maina on Thursday, May 25, 2023, the Kenyan government has been allowed to retain the money held in two Co-operative Bank accounts belonging to Nyamathira after establishing the gift emanated from a money laundering network.
The judge ordered the forfeiture of the funds since the source of the money had not been explained and disclosed by billionaire Marc De Mesel, a Belgian YouTube crypto personality.
In a landmark judgement, Justice Maina said the philanthropist was given an opportunity to explain how he earns his money which he dishes to young women all over the world at will but he failed to do so.
Justice Maina said in the absence of an explanation, the state benefits from the money secretly wired into the country from the overseas crypto personality.
While allowing the Asset Recovery Agency (ARA) application to have the funds declared proceeds of crime, Maina stated that the evidence tendering in court by both the state and the two lover birds revealed there was obvious money laundering.
"I analysed and went through the evidence tendered by the boyfriend and it did not show the source of funds that were wired to the Kenya woman friend," ruled Justice Maina.
She added that in the absence of disclosure of the source of funds, the probable conclusion is that the source of the money is illegal.
As a consequence, she said, the court is left with no other alternative but to order the money held in the two bank accounts to be forfeited to the state.
Nyamathira hit the headlines in 2021 when she went public that DCI detectives had intercepted a monetary gift sent to her by a Belgian lover.
The woman complained of mistreatment by the government crime agency for withholding the Ksh102 million sent to her for her personal use.
Evidence tendered in court showed that the millions were deposited in an account at Co-operative Bank in four transactions between August 4 and August 6, 2021, raising suspicion from the authorities.
The recipient has all along remained faceless despite the cash-recovery suit filed by the state agency.
The tycoon was also on the spotlight after he also wired Ksh257 million to three other Kenyan women namely Tabby Wambuku Kago (Ksh108 million), Jane Wangui Kago (Ksh49 million), and Serah Wambui (Ksh100 million).
The Belgian wired $229,980 on August 4, followed by $231,980 the following day.
On August 6, Mesel wired the money twice, $224,980 and $227,980 to Nyamathira's bank account.
In the transaction declaration documents, the Belgian national indicated to the court that Nyamathira, a Nairobi Technical Institute student, was “free to use the money to secure financial security for our future children”.
He also told the court he gave the woman the money as a gift out of love.
The money was, however, frozen amid suspicion of the source of the millions from the cryptocurrency dealer pending the determination of the recovery suit.
ARA alleged that the Belgian national and Nyamathira could be involved in an international money-laundering scheme.
A month after the ARA filed the suit recovery, the real identity of the woman who was sent the cash came into question on January 26, 2022, after two sets of advocates clashed in court and were talking about different people.
The judge in her judgement has declined to delve into the issue of legal representation of Nyamathira.