Court unfreezes S. Sudan Minister’s bank account held in Kenya

Dr Martin Elia Lomuro

Dr Lomuro whose wife and children live in Nairobi launched a court battle to restore the account describing it as a malicious conspiracy against him and the South Sudan government at the behest of the US government

By The Weekly Vision Online

The High Court in Nairobi has dismissed money laundering claims against a tough-talking South Sudan’s minister Dr Martin Elia Lomuro. The ruling by the court automatically lifts a freeze order on the ministers’ bank accounts held in Kenya and Juba frozen in June 2021 upon application by Kenya’s Assets Recovery Agency on grounds of money laundering.

Court sources revealed to The Weekly Vision Online that the ministers’ account held KSh.13,421,356.74 in Kenyan currency. Dr Lomuro whose wife and children live in Nairobi launched a court battle to restore the account describing it as a malicious conspiracy against him and the South Sudan government at the behest of the US government. Behind the scenes, the freeze is said to have sparked a serious diplomatic crisis between Juba and Nairobi with the Sudanese accusing the agency of tarnishing Mr Lomuro and South Sudan’s reputation with unsubstantiated claims of money laundering.

In papers filed at the High Court, Dr Lomuro and his wife Rejah Keji Ladu Kenyi denied any links to criminal activities insisting the frozen account held legitimate proceeds from Dr Lomuro’s salary and allowances besides his real estate investments in Juba. Last week the High Court was convinced with his arguments thus lifting the ban. The order lifting the ban indicates the Assets Recovery Agency was satisfied with the explanation rendered by the South Sudanese explaining the activity of the account and monies flowing into it.

Dr Lomuro accused Kenyan authorities of breaching international law and diplomatic etiquette after Nairobi froze his bank account. His advocate also accused the Assets Recovery Agency of defaming South Sudan by linking what was described as South Sudan’s ‘most senior minister’ to money laundering

Says the brief judgment in part: ‘The Applicant (Assets Recovery Agency) is satisfied with the explanation provided by the respondent (Martin Elia Lomuro) on the source of the funds. The Applications dated 2nd June 2021 and 6th July 2021 are compromised and the order issued on 4th June is rescinded.

‘The respondent is at liberty to operate account number 011617437737++ at the Kenyan bank.’ In papers filed by Dr Lomuro mid this month, the South Sudanese minister claims the Assets Recovery Agency froze his account when he tried to transfer USD 8000 from his Nairobi account to Nigeria on December 22, 2020 but was blocked. On the same date, he alleges that he tried and failed to transfer USD 20,000 from his Nairobi account to his daughter in Ghana but it failed and the money vanished from the account altogether.

Dr Lomuro accused Kenyan authorities of breaching international law and diplomatic etiquette after Nairobi froze his bank account. His advocate also accused the Assets Recovery Agency of defaming South Sudan by linking what was described as South Sudan’s ‘most senior minister’ to money laundering. The advocate said the agency, most likely acted at the behest of the US Treasury Department which has imposed sanctions on several South Sudan officials accused of obstruction of peace and promoting war in that country.

In the court papers filed at the High Court in Nairobi, the minister had accused Kenya’s authority of acting maliciously and arbitrarily, at the behest of the USA which has imposed sanctions and restrictions on various South Sudanese, and tarnished his and South Sudan’s standing and reputation in the East Africa and Africa regions and globally.

Dr Lomuro denied any links to illegal activity and money laundering and admits operating bank accounts in Juba and Nairobi. He says he opened the account in Nairobi to support his wife’s medication and upkeep in Nairobi where she has been living for years after falling sick. He says this money also supported his two children born in Kenya and are Kenyan citizens.

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