A Belgian national who sent hundreds of millions of shillings to his Kenyan girlfriend and her family members has reportedly fled the country.
Marc De Mesel, who is wanted by Kenyan authorities over involvement in an alleged money-laundering scheme, allegedly sneaked into neighboring Tanzania through the Namanga border.
The Asset Recovery Agency (ARA), through its lawyer Stephen Githinji, told the court that the Belgian tycoon crossed the border disguised as a pedestrian before fleeing the region.
Mesel is said to have fled the country in the company of his girlfriend Felista Nyamathira Njoroge, a 21-year-old Nairobi Technical Institute student whom he gave Sh109 million.
Investigations by ARA revealed that the foreigner transferred a total of Sh650 million to Felesta and four others between February 2020 and August 2021 without revealing the source of the funds.
“He is a person of interest who we suspect is recruiting young Kenyan girls into an international crime racket,” ARA said.
ARA believes the Belgian is part of an international money-laundering syndicate that sends cash to Kenyan women who assist in withdrawing the funds.
ARA filed an application seeking forfeiture of Sh109 million held in two bank accounts belonging to Felesta, after investigations revealed she was involved in an elaborate international money-laundering scheme.
“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,” ARA’s attorney Githinji says in court papers.
“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.”
A Co-operative Bank account registered in the name of Nyamathira holds Sh104 million while a Stanbic Bank account has Sh5 million.
Investigations by ARA detective Fredrick Musyoki revealed that the student opened the dollar account at Co-operative Bank on August 2nd, 2021, and four days later, the account was credited with $914,967 (Sh104,205,591) in four transactions.
“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,” Musyoki disclosed.
High Court judge Esther Maina last November allowed ARA to freeze Nyamathira’s accounts for 90 days to pave way for investigations into a suspected money-laundering scheme.