A High Court in Kenya on Wednesday, December 9, ordered over N454million confiscated from a Nigerian man at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) to be deposited at Central Bank of Kenya pending money laundering investigations.
Mauzu Bala was arrested on Friday, December 4, with USD 880,000, 60,000 euros and N63,000 (N454,303,000 all together), stacked in his handbag while heading to Dubai.
Directorate of Criminal Investigations – DCI, confirmed the latest development in a statement on Wednesday.
“The High Court has ordered over Ksh 100 million that was confiscated from a foreigner by detectives based at JKIA to be deposited at CBK pending money laundering investigations,” the statement reads.
“The foreign national who was heading to Dubai from Nigeria was in possession of USD 880,000, 60,000 Euros and 63,000 Naira. To enable investigate the matter, DCI Transnational Organized Crime Detectives (TOCU) are working with the Asset Recovery Agency (ARA).The seized cash is believed to be from International Criminal Cartel.”
The Assets Recovery Agency (ARA) had sought court orders to freeze over Sh100 million seized from Bala at JKIA.
ARA said his failure to disclose that he was carrying such a huge amount of money and produce documents supporting the legitimacy of the cash raised suspicion of money laundering.
Section 12 (1) of the Proceeds of Crime and Anti-Money Laundering Act requires a person to declare any amount above $10,000 (approximately over Sh1 million).
The Act gives the agency powers to obtain a court order seizing money within five days, where there is reasonable grounds to believe that it is illicit money.
“The threshold for requiring the declaration was not complied as the respondent did not disclose the source of the cash, the business he was doing and the basis of moving with cash of that magnitude,” Fedrick Musyoki, a police investigator attached to ARA, said in an affidavit.
“There are reasonable grounds to suspect the funds found in possession of the respondents in cash may be a direct or indirect benefit or proceeds of crime obtained from a complex money laundering scheme and are liable to be forfeited to the state under the Proceeds of Crime and Anti-Money Laundering Act, 2009.” he added.
When asked why he was carrying such a huge amount, Mr Bala allegedly said he was heading to Dubai for business.
But the agency said there are banks in Nigeria and Dubai that allow a customer to transfer money within the two countries.
Mr Bala allegedly he had no proof of declaration of being in possession of the bulky cash from Nigeria or documentation to support the source, purpose or movement of the cash.
The court ordered Kenya Airways CEO Allan Kilavuka to hand the money to ARA, pending conclusion of investigations.
The agency says the Nigerian had disembarked from Kenya Airways flight KQ535 from Lagos, Nigeria and was intercepted at the transit lounges, heading to catch flight KQ310 to Dubai.
The agency wants to be allowed to hold the money, pending conclusion of investigations and possible application for forfeiture to the State.