A Nigerian ‘businessman’ identified as Mauzu Bala was recently arrested at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, after a bag containing huge amount of money (a total of Sh100m) was found on him.
The Kenyan Assets Recovery Agency is currently seeking a court injunction to confiscate the cash until its source of origin can be established. The regulatory agency’s bone of contention is the fact that Mauzu Bala failed to disclose to airport authorities that he had that much money on him. He also could not provide any documents that could verify the legitimacy of the money.
Mauzu Bala, who flew in from Lagos on a Kenyan Airways flight KQ535, was arrested at the transit lounge where he was waiting for a connecting flight to Dubai. Upon initial interrogation by the police, he explained that he was heading to Dubai for business. He did not mention the nature of the business. But inside his handbag were hard currencies such as $880,000, €60, 000, and N63,000.
“The threshold for requiring the declaration was not complied as the respondent did not disclose the source of the cash, the business he was doing and the basis of moving with cash of that magnitude. There are reasonable grounds to suspect the funds found in possession of the respondents in cash may be a direct or indirect benefit or proceeds of crime obtained from a complex money laundering scheme and are liable to be forfeited to the state under the Proceeds of Crime and Anti-Money Laundering Act, 2009,” said Fedrick Musyoki, a police investigator handling the case.
It should be noted that Section 12 (1) of Kenya’s Proceeds of Crime and Anti-Money Laundering Act mandates individuals to make a declaration anytime they have more than $10, 000 worth of physically cash in their possession. The same Act also empowers the Assets Recovery Agency to obtain court order seizing any suspicious cash found in excess possession of individuals.
It is unclear how this case will unfold in the coming days. In the meantime, not much is known about the Nigerian or his business affiliates. Perhaps his lawyers will argue that he was unaware of the existence of this law, although ignorance of the law is generally accepted as no excuse.
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