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Court extends freeze orders in NYS probe

The High Court has extended orders to freeze bank accounts of suspects and companies linked to the Sh8 billion National Youth Service (NYS) scandal.

Justice Jessie Lessit said she is satisfied that the Assets Recovery Agency (ARA) needs more time to complete investigations on claims of money laundering.

“I am satisfied with submissions made by the investigator that the prayers sought are justified to enable investigations into funds held in the said accounts,” she ruled.

Last week, ARA moved to court seeking to have the orders freezing 11 bank accounts held at Equity Bank for NYS Two suspects extended for another 90 days.

In an affidavit, Frederick Musyoki from the recovery agency said  there was apprehension the money in the bank accounts may be withdrawn and spent.

The investigating officer said preliminary investigations have revealed that between January 2015 and May 2018 more than Sh1 billion was laundered from NYS and channeled into several accounts some of which are held at Equity Bank.

“The preliminary investigations require further probe to establish the money trail and trace proceeds of crime,” read court documents.

The agency moved to the Anti- corruption court after a petition to extend the freeze orders was declined on August 29 by a lower court for lack of jurisdiction.

ARA wants to scrutinise account opening documents, statements of accounts since their inception to date, and investigate cheque and cash deposits as well as withdrawals.  

“This is a case of immense public interest involving a complex scheme of money laundering and proceeds of  crime that has taken the investigators a lot of time to unravel,” said the investigating officer.

The suspects include former Youth Affairs Principal Secretary Mbogo Omollo, James Thuita, Lidi Holding Limited, Amerri traders, Interscope tech and services, Flagstone Merchants Company Ltd and Elly supplies.