Dark secrets of city deadly new mafia

A new crime cartel has taken root in the capital city, our month-long investigations indicate. And it is not the ordinary gun-totting bank robber. This is a sophisticated group modeled on the famous Sicilian Mafia or the gangs in Al Capone's Chicago.

The new group is in the 'white' crime of money-laundering, narcotics and gun-running. It involves individuals and families in high society backed by crime-hardened and filthy rich Somali refugees. In their own circles, members of the new crime cartels refer to each other as 'comrade of the White bar'. And like in a script from the classic film, The Godfather, the new crime Mafia has a hit squad to execute their mission; policemen on payroll to keep them away from trouble, and lawyers to take their brief in case they get into trouble.

Members of the 'White Bar' wear designer suits, sun shades and drive heavily tinted, state-of-the-art fuel guzzlers. They frequent top-class city hotels and beaches down at the coast, and generally lead the seemingly harmless lives of professionals.

But this is a very dangerous lot. And so are their agents of terror.

Our sources disclose that the incident last year in which the police exchanged fierce fire with Somali gunmen along Waiyaki way was the work of the new crime cartel.

We are further informed that this group has been using airstrips along the Seven Forks dam in Eastern province to conduct their illegal activities. The airstrips are reserved for Kengen crews manning the power generating stations along the Tana River.

Contacted, however, police spokesman, Mr. Gideon Kibunja said police were not aware of any unauthorized flight or illegal activity at the airstrips along River Tana.

He said: "Any planes flying through Kenya's airspace are cleared for take-off and designated flight paths by the Directorate of Civil Aviation (DCA). It's when they deviate from their normal flight-path that Kenya Airport Police Unit (KAPU) intervenes."

In any case, he added, the DCA will pick you on the radar because any deviation or unauthorized flight can easily cause mid-air collision.

But sources insisted that DCA staff stationed at Wilson Airport are often ordered by influential individuals to assist pilots flying planes into the country from Somalia which land near Kiambere Kengen station in Mbeere district.

Sources further intimated that organized crime syndicates are in a frenzy buying of property in leafy suburbs of Runda area as well as beach plots in Mombasa and Malindi. Ostensibly the aim is to have 'safe' houses from where to direct their criminal activities.

One member of the 'White Bar' whose origins are in Ethiopia operates a 'safe house' in Lamu where he is said to have compromised everybody including local politicians, provincial administration and police. The joke in town is that he is the Lamu 'Mayor' since he owns almost half the businesses in the coastal town. Sources say most of the wealth is in the hands of members of the 'White Bar' is from the proceeds of drugs.

Our investigations have established that Forex bureaus operated by Somalis in Nairobi, Mombasa and Malindi are the main conduits of money laundering by operators in the 'White Bar'. One such bureau is located right in the central business district, at a prestigious city building along Standard Street, and transacts money transfers across Africa, South America and the Middle East. The bureau has a branch in the seedy Eastleigh estate. Yet another such bureau operates from Eastleigh's 6th Street.

Our sources said that some of the 'foreign investors' demanding to invest in Kenya are in fact money laundering who use the system as a screen from multiple tax breaks besides cleaning dirty money. For example, a recent massive investment deal in the transport sector could not be 'conclusively finalised' because the 'investors' feigned shortage of funds. In the end well-connected local financiers and businessmen chipped in to offset the shortfall which was most likely a ruse to clean dirty money.

While in most cases, drug dealers pay for property transfers in cash, however, our sources say that there is hardly ever a need to do so in Kenya, since no law prohibits the deposit of the proceeds of crime in a bank.

According to United Nations Drugs Control Programme (UNDCP) in Nairobi, there has been increasing resort to postal money orders for purposes of money laundering.

"Criminal organizations are increasingly using postal money orders to transfer huge incomes generated from illicit activities into foreign countries that apply bank secrecy," the sources said.

However, plans are at an advanced stage now to facilitate the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the police and post office authorities in Kenya, whose aim is to combat the issue of post offices for money laundering. Eastleigh-based Kenyan businessmen troop to Gulf States to purchase their wares. However, it is interesting to note that the majority of these businessmen, apart from paying for their air tickets, rarely carry cash with them when traveling to these countries.

In reality, these businessmen are emissaries sent by conservative sheikhs to the land of oil to bring in already paid for goods to Kenya.

To enable them make the transactions, American and Swiss banks collaborate with dubious correspondent banks in off shore centres to facilitate the movement of dirty money around the globe. Multinationals shift money through tax free territories in what is euphemistically known as "tax planning". The economic boom and the movements of dollars daily between banks in the Arab Emirates and other parts of the effectively help conceal the tracing of smaller amounts of dirty money.

Internet gambling outfits and casinos serve as fronts of narco-dollars. British Bureau De Change launders up to 2.6 billion British pounds annually. The 500 Euro note will make it much easier to smuggle cash out of Europe. A French parliamentary committee accuses the City of London of being a money laundering haven in a 400 page report.

Intelligence services cover the tracks of covert operations by opening accounts in obscure tax havens, from Cyprus to Nauru. Money laundering, its venues and techniques, are an integral fabric of the world. Business as usual?

The frantic efforts by the Kenya Government to secure the border with Somalia will have little or no success in limiting or stifling insurgency and the concomitant instability inside Somalia unless and until issues of financiers already operating within Kenya is confronted.

Hundreds of thousands of Somalis sought refuge, worked and lived in Dubai and the Middle East, the Mecca of money laundering, after Somalia disintegrated while others moved to Eastleigh in Nairobi where inexplicably they quickly became immensely wealthy and began financing the war in their country from the comfort of their rooms.

The principal method used in financing terrorism is laundering the proceeds of drugs and money coming into Kenya through rarely used airstrips in Eastern province, casinos and forex bureau. The burgeoning numbers of casinos in Nairobi are at odds with the economic realities of Kenya.

Our attempt to get an explanation from the swelling number of casinos licensed by the Betting Control and Licensing Board, which is under Ministry of Home Affairs, did not bear any fruit with officials insisting that we put our request in writing. Neither was the Central Bank of Kenya in a position to tell us the number of forex bureau licensed by it.

In a country that has recently faced major economic hardships, which led to massive bankruptcies, it is explicable how so many casinos and forex bureaus can do survive by doing legitimate business in Nairobi.



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One Response to Dark secrets of city deadly new mafia

tenge said...

This is rubbish. Somalis are well known for their honesty in running legitimate business. In particular, The hawala system has been in place even before the collapse of the former Somalia republic and serves the Somali community all over the world. Somalis do not deal in drugs and have nothin to do with Italian style mafia.