The High Court has frozen the Kenya bank accounts of a South Sudanese Cabinet Affairs Minister – Martin Elia Lomuro, over suspicion of money laundering.
Justice James Wakiaga issued orders to freeze Mr. Lomuro’s bank accounts that contained Kshs. 13.42 million following a case filed by Asset Recovery Agency (ARA).
ARA said Mr. Lomuro’s account at the bank made several suspicious transactions pointing to money laundering. The agency also stated that there were reasonable grounds to believe that the funds held by the respondent in the specified bank account are direct benefits, profits and or proceeds of crime obtained from a complex money-laundering scheme and are liable to be frozen under the Proceeds of Crime and Anti-Money Laundering Act, 2009.
ARA revealed that Lomuro operated two bank accounts at the bank – one of them a dollar only account which received $351, 317.81 as credit out of which $351, 293.52 was debited for the period September 2017-January 2020.
Additionally, on December 24, 2019, the respondent instructed the bank to close down his dollar account and send the funds to his local account.
The agency also revealed that a preliminary analysis of the bank statement for the dollar established a total of $460,896.20 was transferred to Lomuro’s local currency account. Also, several transactions were made in the account between January 4, 2018, and January 2, 2020, to the tune of Kshs. 46.20 million. Further, Lomuro made suspicious cash transfers to a bank account held in the name of a Ms Rejah Kedi Ladu Kenyi, an indication that they worked jointly in the suspected money laundering racket.
These investigations by the agency also revealed that Lomuro’s account had been credited with Kshs. 122.78 million out of which, Kshs. 109.36 was debited. This left a balance of Kshs. 13.42 million which the agency sought to be preserved. The amount is declared as salary. ARA revealed that the preliminary analysis of the bank statement held in the name of the respondent does not demonstrate a consistent source of funds which could reasonably be said to be salary.
The investigation further revealed that Rejab’s accounts received Kshs. 42.322 million. Out of the amount, Kshs. 39.68 million was received from various sources on diverse dates between September 14, 2017, and December 29, 2020. It was also established that Ms Rejah Kedi Ladu Kenyi, alleged wife to Martin Elias Lomuro received a total of Kshs. 49.43 million as forex reversal and part if this amount Kshs. 46.20 million was from his USSD account.
ARA concluded that the bank accounts of the respondent were most likely used as conduits of illicit financial flows and money laundering.
Separately, Mr Lomuro has also been accused of fanning violence in his native South Sudan, for financial gain. In December 2019, the US Treasury’s office of foreign assets control (OFAC) sanctioned Lomuro and his defence counterpart Kuol Manyang Juuk for fanning violence in the country for their own personal enrichment.
The ARA’s move clearly shows that Kenya is not a play field for the corrupt. The president has tirelessly vowed to fight graft by establishing and allocating more resources to anti-graft agencies to facilitate them in their operations to ensure culprits are brought to book, and win war on corruption. Therefore, foreigners and citizens should be warned that the law will catch up with them sooner or later.