Top law firm seeks orders to unblock frozen accounts in NYS theft probe

Kaplan & Stratton Advocates is seeking to stop fraud investigators from blocking their access to an account.

Wednesday February 3 2016

NYS servicemen march past the presidential dais during a parade in Gilgil, Nakuru County on September 10, 2014. FILE PHOTO | SULEIMAN MBATIAH

NYS personnel march past the presidential dais during a parade in Gilgil, Nakuru County, on September 10, 2014. FILE PHOTO | SULEIMAN MBATIAH | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By ABIUD OCHIENG
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The partners of a top law firm whose accounts have been frozen by banking fraud investigators over alleged involvement in the theft of Sh791 million from the National Youth Service are seeking to unfreeze their accounts.

Kaplan & Stratton Advocates is seeking to stop the Banking Fraud Investigation Unit (BFIU) from blocking their access to a client account held at Barclays bank.

The BFIU last week froze the contested bank account following accusations that the law firm is assisting May Fox Mining Company in laundering funds stolen from the NYS.

Justice Fred Ochieng, while issuing temporary orders unfreezing the account, warned the firm’s partners that they would be held personally responsible if the money in the account is traced back to the NYS.

“In consideration of this order, the partners in the law firm of Kaplan & Stratton Advocates are directed to give their undertaking that if any money is paid out from their bank account and it is later proved that such funds were the subject of the money fraudulently obtained from NYS, the partners will be held to account,” said Justice Ochieng.

The judge also said that the order does not stop the BFIU from pursuing their investigations on the said account.

APPEAR IN COURT ON FEB 4

The case will be heard on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, individuals and entities linked to the Sh791 million theft at the NYS are also set to appear in court on February 4, for the hearing of applications they filed seeking to lift the freeze orders on their assets.

The orders were issued in November last year, after the Assets Recovery Agency filed an application alleging that the properties had been bought using money stolen from NYS.

The agency wants the assets to remain frozen as it seeks to recover the lost money.

The alleged scam led to the resignation of key officials in the Devolution ministry as well as the commencement of court cases against individuals alleged to have abused their positions at the NYS.

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