Belgian in Sh600m ‘love gifts’ case puts up spirited defence
The Belgian at the centre of a Sh600 million case pitting the Assets Recovery Agency (ARA) against three Kenyan women has put up a spirited defence over accusations that he is involved in money laundering.
In documents filed before the court, Marc Freddy de Messel describes himself as an honest, hardworking man with no criminal record in his entire life.
He wants the money released to the women he claims to be his lovers so that “they continue enjoying the fruits of being intimate” with him.
He also says the millions of shillings that have raised eyebrows among security agencies should not be touched as it is meant to secure a “good future lifestyle” for his offspring.
“l hope that l will give more quality time, love and attention to my children; than l got for myself from my parents. Giving them a rich environment where they can learn a lot, by giving them the freedom to follow their curiosity instead of wanting them to learn what l like or become what l want. I am not interested in forcing them into boring subjects,” Messel states.
Messel, who seeks to be enjoined in the case filed by ARA to freeze the millions of shillings wired to the three women, also claims in court papers that he has certificates of good conduct from Kenya’s Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and the Belgium Police.
He says he made his money through hard work and good timing on where and when to invest. “I would like to confirm on oath that I made my money through sheer hard work, grit and a knack for timing and I should be allowed to prove the same. It is therefore fair that my application be allowed to enable this Honourable Court to interrogate whatever evidence and facts that I will place before it goes to the root of the matter, which is the source of the funds,” Messel argues in an affidavit filed on his behalf by lawyer Agnel Nadida of Ndindi and Nadida Advocates.
The ARA has filed several cash-freeze suits against Felista Nyamathira Njoroge, Tabby Wambuku Kago and Serah Wambui Kamanda. It has also obtained temporary preservation orders stopping them from withdrawing the funds, which they claim to be gifts from their lover Messel.
The agency is conducting investigations to establish the source of the money, claiming the women could be involved in an international money-laundering scheme.
Another beneficiary of the Belgian is Timothy Waigwa, 22, a student at Kirinyaga University. He received Sh47 million as a gift. ARA says Messel also sent money to other women — Jane Wangui Kago and Isabel Nyaguthii Wanjohi.
Interestingly, Wangui Kago and Wambuku Kago are sisters. Messel claims he met and fell in love with both of them.
Wambuku received Sh108 million, Nyamathira Sh109 million and her sister Wangui Sh49 million while Wambui Kamanda got Sh100 million. They claimed to be in romantic relationships with the Belgian.
In defence documents filed in court, Nyamathira says ARA is invading her privacy since the money was a gift from Messel, whom she said had also made her pregnant. She said she got the money genuinely through her relationship and businesses.
Wangui, on her part, indicates that the Sh49 million “gift” was meant to boost her salon and clothes business in Ruiru, Kiambu county. She says she opened the Euro account in July 2021 for purposes of receiving funds from Messel, who she states is the boyfriend of her sister (Wambuku) and had resided with her in Ruiru before acquiring an apartment at Garden City, Thika Road.
He later flew out of the country and has been sending money to them, she said.
In his papers, Messel paints himself as a serious investor dealing in crypto-currency and Tesla stock — a man out to ensure that his children lead a comfortable life.
“That the continual mention and making of unsubstantiated allegations of being a money launderer by ARA has tainted my reputation and credibility in the eyes of right-thinking members of the public, both locally and internationally,” he states in his affidavit. He accuses ARA of failing to summon him to shed light on the source of his money before moving to court to freeze it.
While exonerating the women from any blame, the Belgian says it is only he who can “explicitly” explain the source of the funds and the intention for sending it.
“That I was personally never summoned to give an explanation on my wealth but I expressed my willingness to provide all proof necessary to exonerate me from any wrongdoing. My willingness to do so was communicated to ARA through my advocates on record,” he says.
Messel also tabled a certificate of good conduct from the DCI, number 464264/2021, dated February 5, 2021, and another one from the Belgian Federal Public Service giving him a clean bill of health.