An Asian woman and four Kenyans have been linked to a debit card fraud.
The Assets Recovery Agency (ARA) is seeking to recover an estimated Sh2.3 billion believed to be proceeds of crime.
In an application filed at the High Court, the State agency said the four; Monthida Rashi (Loatian), Stephen Njenga Maina, Felix Rantuu Lekishe, Solomon Joseph Maina and Robert Lemerketo, held the billions of shillings in two accounts at Ecobank.
The accounts were registered under the company name Kiwipay Kenya Limited. The company was registered on June 3, 2020.
The directors; Maina, Lekishe and Karimoni each own 2,900 shares. Ms Rashi owns 8,000 while Mr Lemerketo, owns 23,300 shares, making him the largest shareholder.
According to Business Daily, Kiwipay PTE Ltd, a Singapore-based company owns the bulk of the shares. Official records at the registrar of companies, Mr Lemerketo’s name is missing.
The business claims it provides foreign e-wallet solutions like Alipay, SamsungPay, ApplePay, WeChatPay, and more by enabling digital payment services like QR Code solutions for retail establishments, hotels, and restaurants.
As the agency investigates the source of the monies, Justice Esther Maina has barred the firm and its directors from withdrawing or transferring the monies for a period of 90 days.
“That preservation orders be and are hereby issued prohibiting the respondent (KiwiPay), its employees, agents, servants or any other persons acting on their behalf from transacting, transferring or dealing with the funds specified,” the judge ordered.
A magistrate’s court had in May ordered the funds to be frozen for 45 days, but after the owners pleaded their case, the court on June 7 allowed them to withdraw Sh15 million.
The agency requested a hearing at the High Court, citing the freezing order’s June 27 expiration date.
“That there is an imminent risk that the funds held in the specified bank accounts in the sum of $19.4 million may be withdrawn, transferred and or dissipated if the preservation orders are not granted and this would greatly prejudice the ongoing investigations into money laundering and the tracing, identification and recovery of proceeds of crime,” argued ARA.
State counsel Stephen Githinji told the court that there is speculation surrounding the company’s possible involvement in credit or debit card fraud and affiliation with a global gang.
“That preliminary investigations have established that the respondent were involved in an intricate money-laundering scheme designed to conceal, disguise the nature, source and disposition of the illicit funds, suspected to constitute proceeds of crime and which are the subject matter of this application,” Mr Githinji said.