The High Court has frozen the bank account of Yvonne Wanjiku Ngugi, the estranged wife of a businessman linked to the multi million-shilling National Youth Service (NYS) scandal.

Wanjiku is the estranged wife of controversial businessman James Thuita Nderitu who has been charged with theft of public funds at the NYS through fictitious invoices for goods and stationery.

The court issued a preservation order prohibiting the respondent, her agents or representatives from transacting, withdrawing, transferring, using and/or dealing in any manner howsoever with the sum of Sh3, 101, 269.69 held in Account No. 022095002 at Diamond Trust Bank (DTB). Further, the court also warned that breach of the orders will lead to imprisonment of up to six months. The orders were given following an application by the Assets Recovery Authority (ARA).

ARA revealed that they are targeting four properties including residences in Thome, Garden Estate, and Runda in Nairobi belonging to the same suspects. In an affidavit, the agency stated that the bank accounts, including those of Thuita’s firms — Flagstone Merchants, Excella Limited, Firstling, and Interscope — were used as conduits for laundering more than Kshs.1.5 billion. Firstling directors are Yvonne and Thuita, who were once married but now say they have separated.

Bank accounts of Ellwyn Supplies owned by Yvonne and Flagstone, in which she is a co-director with Thuita, were frozen because they received money from Thuita who claimed the cash was for child support.

Thuita asked the court to divorce the mother of his children from the suit, noting that all decisions are attributable to him and that Yvonne did not participate in the running of the business since they are separated.

Thuita received Sh110 million directly to his private account from NYS and now has Sh3.1 million remaining. Both Thuita and Yvonne face charges of fraudulently receiving millions for goods not supplied.

Court filings show that Thuita and the firms associated with him received Sh1.61 billion from the NYS in the 11 months to November 2017. By the time the government froze his ten bank accounts and those belonging to Yvonne, Thuita had withdrawn more than Sh1.5 billion whose whereabouts have not yet been traced.

For years, the NYS has been in the eye of the storm over tender irregularities where hundreds of millions of shillings were paid to contractors for supplying air.

There is need for NYS and all other government institutions to strengthen their procurement procedures to be able to seal the loopholes used by corruption perpetrators to steal public funds.

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