A US-based agency that was entrusted with compensating victims of the 1998 Nairobi terror attack has sued a lady who reportedly refused to refund millions of shillings she received in error.
Mary Ngunyi Muiruri received $65,683.50 (Sh7.4 million) from the 1998 United States Embassy Bombing Qualified Fund, which has requested the High Court to obtain a return order against her.
The money was supposed to go to a Mary Njoki Muiruri, but due to a mix-up in middle names, the money went to the wrong person. Ms Ngunyi is yet to respond to the suit.
The agency has also enjoined a local lender in the lawsuit seeking to get the funds refunded.
Ms Ngunyi, according to the Nairobi-based bank, declined to reverse the funds.
According to the lender, there was a debate over who was the true recipient of the Sh7.4 million in communication between the 1998 United States Embassy Bombing Qualified Fund and Ngunyi.
Ms Ngunyi who had claimed ownership of the funds is said to have already spent a majority of the funds. Court documents show that there was only $5,553 (Sh633,319) left in her bank account when the 1998 United States Embassy Bombing Qualified Fund obtained a freeze order in February 2021.
In court papers, the bank claims that because it was not a party to the US court cases involving compensation for terror attack victims, it could not authoritatively determine who was the true beneficiary of the funds.
Between 2008 and 2012, several Kenyans filed lawsuits in US courts against Sudan and Iran, demanding compensation for injuries and deaths caused by the bombing of the US Embassy in Nairobi in August 1998.
A US court in 2014 awarded the victims $907 million (Sh103 billion).
Epiq Systems Inc, a US-registered consulting firm, was recruited to oversee the court-ordered award distribution.
The firm then assisted in the formation of the The 1998 United States Embassy Bombing Qualified Fund, which would hold the cash until they it was time to distribute it to the victims.
Despite the fact that Ms Ngunyi was also a victim of the 1998 terror assault, her case against the Republics of Sudan and Iran is still ongoing in US courts.
In court filings, Mr Charles Marr, an Epiq Systems employee and the project coordinator for the 1998 United States Embassy Bombing Qualified Fund, claims that the name mix-up was caused by MM Law, the law firm that filed litigation on behalf of the terror attack victims.
“MM Law’s error occurred as a result of the close similarity between the first defendant’s name and the intended lawful beneficiary. Except for their middle names, the first defendant and the intended lawful beneficiary have exactly similar names as they appear in MM Law’s database/records. Based on the explanation provided I verily believe that MM Law made a genuine mistake and error,” Mr Marr said.
Ms Ngunyi allegedly withdrew the monies by writing nine cheques between November 2020 and January 2021.
The fund claims that the monies should have been blocked by the local bank, which should be held liable alongside Ms Ngunyi.
Ms Ngunyi’s inability to react to the court case, according to the local lender, is not reason enough to punish them.