A Nairobi magistrate’s court has ordered bank managers to freeze accounts of companies and suspects stashed with money believed to have been stolen from the National Youth Service (NYS).

The accounts will remain frozen for six months as the State starts to seize assets acquired through theft of Ksh8 billion from the agency.

The court issued the freezing orders following an application by Asset Recovery Agency (ARA) investigating officer Frederick Musyoki. Dozens of senior officials and business people remain in custody and face charges related to the theft of millions of shillings from the youth agency.

Read: NYS Billions Lost To Ghost Companies

Mr Musyoki reckoned that the suspects and their associates were set to withdraw, transfer all the funds in the bank accounts and frustrate the ongoing investigations for recovery of public money stolen if the freeze order is not issued.

“I pray for the order to investigate the above accounts to enable me access information and documents relating to the said accounts and use for purposes of investigations,” said Musyoki in court documents.

The ARA said the suspects were paid through accounts held in nearly 10 banks for services and goods not delivered.

Banks mentioned in the ARA suit include top lenders like KCB Group , Equity Bank , Standard Chartered Bank , Barclays Kenya , and Co-operative Bank .

Others are Stanbic Kenya , National Bank , Consolidated Bank, Credit Bank, NIC Bank , I&M Bank  and Guaranty Bank.

Central Bank governor Patrick Njoroge said earlier an unspecified number of lenders were under investigation, with the first phase focusing on tracing the recipients of the funds from the NYS and recovering the assets.

Bank executives and persons, who are convicted for handling illicit cash face a Ksh1 million fine, and a three-year jail term, while institutions including banks, credit unions facilitating such deals could be fined up to Ksh20 million upon conviction. Banks could also lose their licences.

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