TIMBER EXPORT: COURT FREEZES MILLIONS BELONGING TO ZAMBIANS NATIONALS.

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BY SAM ALFAN.

High Court has frozen the accounts of First Line capital limited and two Zambian nationals suspected to be holding money believed to be proceeds of crime.

Anti-Corruption division Justice Mumbi Ngugi prohibited the lender together with Bupe Chipando and Caroline Simutengu from transacting, withdrawing or transferring USD 253,821,44 (Sh. 27,450,788,736) from the account held at Standard chartered Bank in the name of First Line capital limited.

The court further barred the three from dealing, transacting, withdrawing or transferring USD 1,567, 150 (Sh. 169,487,272.5). The said money was received from a foreign jurisdiction whose source could not be explained.

“A preservation order is hereby issued prohibiting Respondents their employees, agents, servants or any other person acting on their behalf from transacting, withdrawing, transferring or dealing in any manner howsoever in respect of any profits or benefits derived or accrued from the funds,” ordered Judge Mumbi.

This is after Assets Recovery Agency moved to court seeking to freeze the accounts over suspicion of money laundering, pending completion of ongoing investigations on the said funds.

According to court documents by the agency, they received information into a suspected case of complex money laundering scheme and proceeds of crime involving multiple of money transactions of approximately USD 1,567, 150 from foreign jurisdiction whose source could not legitimately be established involving the three.

The company and the two Zambian nationals are suspected to be involved in complex money laundering schemes involving USD 1,567, 150 from an entity in Amsterdam on the pretense that they are able to export timber to the Netherlands from Kenya.

Preliminary investigations has established that the company and the two Zambian nationals executed a complex scheme of money laundering designed to conceal, disguise the nature, source and disposition and movement of illicit funds suspected to constitute proceeds of crime.

“There are reasonable grounds and evidence demonstration that the funds by the three in the specified bank accounts are direct or indirect benefits, profits or proceeds of crime obtained from a complex money laundering scheme and are liable to be forfeited to the state, ” added the agency.

The agency investigating officer Sautet Jeremiah told the court that from preliminary investigations, analysis of the bank account held at Sadian Bank held in the name of Ochieng Opiyo & company advocates has established the account received USD 1,567, 150 on January 15 this year from a company called Bernhard Ten Brinke Holding Bv which is based on Netherlands and the time of receiving the said funds the bank account had a balance of USD. 56. 58.

It was also established that US$ 715,024 was transferred from a bank account held at Sadian Bank in the name of the said law firm to First Line capital limited account held at Standard chartered Bank and the same was declared as being payment of “Timber purchase for export”.

The said law firm also received a total of Sh. 88,969, 070.00 million in two separate transactions from it dollars account held in the bank.

According to the agency court documents, the law firm received Sh. 51,339,000. 00 million on January 22 and Sh. 37,630, 070. 00 million on the same day and the money was channeled to Sh. 47,731, 200.00 million to Peva Cargo limited and Sh. 37,630,177. 00 million to Mubadala Merchants limited.

The purported customs declaration indicates the consignment as unfinished timber. The agency adds that Kenya Revenue Authority said that the alleged custom is not registered in their system.

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