German Businessman Awarded Sh.1M Over Unlawful Account Freeze by the Kenyan Police

Manfred Schmitt
An old image of Manfred Schmitt dated 1995.

A German businessman with businesses in Kenya has been awarded a million Kenya shillings as compensation for his accounts being unlawfully frozen by the Kenyan police. Half a million is for him while the other is for his company.

Mr. Schmitt found his accounts frozen after he transferred KSh. 635 million from his Diamond Trust Bank account to the Dubai Bank account in 2011 then retransfering back the same amount 10months later. After the second transfer, an alert over a suspicious transaction was sent in to the Central Bank of Kenya, which in turn got the  Banking Fraud Investigations Unit (BFIU) involved. In October 2012, the BFIU, applied to the Chief Magistrate’s court and obtained orders freezing Mr Schmitt’s accounts at DTB on the grounds that it was investigating “suspicious transactions” relating to the businessman.

In June 2013, Manfred Schmitt moved to court seeking KSh.59 million from the government, saying he had incurred heavy emotional and financial loss due to the fraud claims. The High Court in December cleared Mr Schmitt of fraud allegations and lifted orders that froze the businessman’s cash at the Diamond Trust Bank.

“I do not think the action by the respondents (Police) was motivated by actual malice or bad faith. On the other hand, the 1st petitioner (Mr Schmitt) suffered the humiliation and indignity of his accounts being frozen without lawful cause,” observed justice Majanja.

“Taking these factors into account and the authorities I have cited above, a global sum of KSh.500,000 for each of the petitioners (Mr Schmitt and his company)  would go some way in vindicating the petitioners’ rights,” he ruled.

The Judge declined to award the businessman compensation for the legal fees he had incurred defending the case. He further dismissed Mr Schmitt’s compensation claims for interest and lost business opportunities noting that businessman failed to produce the evidence.

Manfred Schmitt, who is originally from Darmstadt and is well known in Germany for his company Orgelschmitt, which owned several music schools and Commodore C64, which manufactured Computers and accessories before turning into a multimedia company named, Schmitt Computer Systems Gmbh that later rebranded into Escom AG when it acquired other companies including Amiga Inc.

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