DCI clears businessman accused of aiding terror

Tuesday, November 17th, 2020 00:00 |
Eastleigh businessman Abdullahi Mohamed Ali. Photo/PD/GERALD ITHANA

The Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) has cleared Eastleigh businessman Abdullahi Mohamed Ali who was accused of offering financial support to a terrorist group.

Detectives say the probe into reports that Abdullahi Mohammed Ali had defrauded Somali investors close to Sh6 billion has also stalled after none of the complainants had made a formal report to any of the investigative agencies.

It had been reported that dozens of Somali MPs and investors both in Nairobi and the diaspora, especially from Saudi Arabia and Dubai, had pumped close to Sh6 billion into the foreign exchange trading company, Maalin Group Companies.

It was reported in March that Ali had fled the country, leaving the ‘investors’ with no legal recourse.

Regarding the terror links, the Anti-Terrorism Police Unit (ATPU) said they launched investigations on June 30 but by last week had not found any links.

State Counsel Duncan Ondimu from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions last week told the court the his office did not intend to charge Ali.

“My instructions are that the investigations by the Anti-Terrorism Police have been completed. They do not wish to charge the applicant,” Ondimu told Justice Lesiit.

The court as a result ruled that Ali’s passport and all the travel documents be released forthwith.

“Cash bail be refunded to depositor. File marked closed,” Justice Lesiit ruled.

However, the case of alleged fraud remains pending with detectives saying investigations will only begin when the investors record their complaints and statement,

Ali is alleged to have convinced Somali legislators and other senior government officials to invest in the scheme.

To qualify as an investor, one had to part with Sh2 million. Some are said to have paid more.

In Somalia, most forex companies collapsed in February just a month after Central Bank of Somalia directed commercial banks to close accounts associated with the said forex companies.

However, despite the warning, politicians still invested in the scheme in Nairobi.

Detectives said they received reports that Ali was financing a terrorist group and had fled the country, prompting the government to issue a red alert. He was not allowed to come back into the country.

He however said he had gone on a business trip abroad and instructed his lawyers to go to court where he successfully challenged the charges through his lawyers.

He was allowed back into the country on condition that he is picked by the ATPU detectives upon arrival and that the fraud claims to investigated.

“On his arrival, while in company of his lawyer, he must present himself to the investigating officer, Inspector Kibet for purposes of any interrogation or investigations,” the Justice Ngenye-Macharia ordered then.

According to Ali, the order barring him from coming back to the country was based on false allegations.

“I insisted on coming back to my country to revive our company and refund the investors,” he said.

Ali, a resident of Wajir and a businessman in Eastleigh and within the CBD near Jamia Mosque, in his statement to the detectives said the company collapsed after most clients started forming their own companies with some even operating in the same countries they used to operate.

“Almost half of the investors had withdrawn their shares, and that posed a serious competition to our business,” Ali said in his statement to the ATPU detectives.

Following the imminent total collapse of the company, he travelled to Seychelles, Mauritius and Ethiopia to meet with business brokers, consultants and investors.

 Ali told the detectives that he started as an apprentice at a bureau de change in Eldoret from 2002 to 2005.

He later moved to Eastleigh where he worked as a courier until mid-2008 and later joined a friend in a forex trade at Garissa Lodge.

In his statement to the detectives, Ali claimed that during this period he gained a lot of trust from majority of Somali speaking people within Eastleigh and later started international transactions.

They later hired two experts from Somalia. “We later decided to open the first business in Mogadishu since most of our trusted clients were from there,” he said.

After six months of operations, they expanded to Dubai and later to Turkey.

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