Police arrest two in Sh750m fake currency heist

Thursday, April 29th, 2021 00:00 |
Police in Kenya say they have arrested two people after seizing fake currency. Photo/PD/FILE

Two suspects were yesterday morning arrested with fake currency amounting to Sh750 million in Kilimani, Nairobi.

Detectives from the Kilimani Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) arrested Samuel Maina and Boniface Mungai at their residence at Makaazi Apartments around 1am following a tip off by members of the public.

The detectives recovered the notes they had forged, purporting them to be genuine US dollars, Euros and Kenya shillings currencies. 

Also recovered were several metal boxes and safes containing the counterfeit cash, machines assorted documents and badges branded ‘De La Rue’ United Nations and National Treasury stickers, containers with unknown liquid, Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) reflector jackets, seals, and stamps for various institutions among other items.

Detectives forwarded the liquid to the laboratory for analysis. Previous recoveries included iodine substance for producing figures and marks peculiar to and used in making Euro and US Dollar currency notes.

The fake currency recovered included US dollars amounting to $6,820,000 (Sh682,000,000) were in 100 dollar bills, Euros, also in 100 bills, were Sh490,000 and Sh6.4 million.

Past recovery links

Police said they had sent the details of the two suspects to establish if they were linked to other past recoveries.

“We have forwarded various identification documents and other items to relevant authorities for background checks and verification.

The report should be ready in two days,” a senior DCI officer told People Daily.

They are expected to appear in court today with the police saying they will be charged with possession of fake currency, being in possession of equipment designed to make fake currency and forgery among other offences including intent to defraud.

Nairobi Region police commander Augustine Nthumbi yesterday said police had enhanced operation across the region to nab more suspects.

He however said following sustained operations that had seen several suspects charged in court, few cases had been reported or detected regarding such counterfeit currencies.

“Such criminal activities have a serious negative impact on our economy. We urge members of the public to be careful and report such cases,” Nthumbi said.

Among the recoveries in the last few years include the Sh300 million fake currency that was found abandoned on the roadside along Ngong Road in September 2019.

The same month, detectives arrested Stephen Mark Oduk with 147 bars of fake gold and fake $1 million in a club’s store in Kilimani.

Four months earlier, police also arrested nine suspects in Kilimani and recovered $1.9 million ((Sh190 million).

Fake gold scam

Detectives say the fake currency is also linked to fake gold scam in the country. Two years ago, police recovered over Sh2 billion in fake currency at the Barclays Bank Nairobi and arrested four international fraudsters.

Detectives from the defunct Flying Squad raided the Barclays Queensway branch following a tip off where the fake money had been kept for safe custody to con gullible businessmen and investors.

“The customer had concealed fake currency in his personal safe deposit box against the bank rules and regulations which include restrictions of items which can be held in the safe deposit box,” a statement from Barclays Bank released read.

Investigations revealed the fraudsters were colluding with some of the bank employees who would allow the suspects to take their potential victims to the bank where they would be shown the cash and ask to invest with them.

Detectives at the DCI have also discovered that some of the fraudsters have been in the past acquired the  services of fake officials from other state agencies.

The 2019 case involving Sheikh al-Makhtoum’s associate is just the most recent case of foreign nationals who have been scammed in gold deals in Kenya and Uganda.

In the past few months, more than 40 suspected gold scammers have been arrested in Nairobi alone.

Other than Kenyans, those arrested include Bulgarians, Tanzanians, Rwandans, Nigerians and Congolese. Another link among them has been a tendency to live in Kilimani, an upmarket part of Nairobi.

The crackdown on gold cartels in Nairobi brings into focus how attempts to clean the trade in conflict minerals are failing. The amounts involved also suggest Kenya’s financial system is still a conduit for extensive money laundering

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