A US-based fund entrusted with compensating victims of the 1998 terror attack in Nairobi has sued a Kenyan woman who erroneously received money and refused to refund.
In a case filed at the High Court in Nairobi, the 1998 United States Embassy Bombing Qualified Fund wants the woman named Mary Ngunyi Muiruri to be ordered to refund $65,683.50 (Sh7.5 million) she received from the fund in November 2020.
Nation reports that money was supposed to be paid to one Mary Njoki Muiruri but it was wrongly sent to Mrs. Ngunyi following a mix-up in their middle names.
The fund has also enjoined a local bank in the case seeking to have it compelled to refund the money. The 1998 United States Embassy Bombing Qualified Fund had requested the lender to refund the money, but the bank said Mrs. Ngunyi declined to approve the reversal request, thus presenting it with a legal challenge.
Citing a communication between the fund and Mrs. Ngunyi, the Nairobi-based bank says there was a dispute as to who was the genuine recipient of the money. Mrs. Ngunyi insisted that the money was hers.
The bank adds that the woman has withdrawn most of the funds as only $5,553 was remaining by the time the 1998 United States Embassy Bombing Qualified Fund obtained court orders to freeze her account in February 2021.
The bank told the court that it could not ascertain who was the genuine recipient of the money given that it was not a party to the court cases in the US over compensation of terror attack victims.
In 2014, a US court ordered that victims of the 1998 bombing of the US Embassy in Nairobi that had sued be awarded $907 million.
US-based consultancy Epiq Systems Inc was hired to oversee the distribution of the court-ordered awards and it registered the 1998 United States Embassy Bombing Qualified Fund, which would hold the funds awaiting distribution.
Ngunyi is a victim of the 1998 terror attack, but her case against the Republics of Sudan and Iran is yet to be determined by a US court.
Epiq and the 1998 United States Embassy Bombing Qualified Fund say the mix-up in names was done by MM Law, the law firm that filed suits on behalf of the terror attack victims.
Mrs. Ngunyi withdrew the funds by writing nine cheques between November 2020 and January 2021, according to court records.
The 1998 United States Embassy Bombing Qualified Fund argues that the local bank should have frozen the funds, thus it should be found culpable alongside Mrs. Ngunyi. But the lender insists that the failure by Mrs. Ngunyi to respond to the court case cannot be a reason to punish the bank, which has an arguable case.