Businessmen Steal US Govt's Ksh 30B, Buy Luxury Cars and Houses in Kenya

  • Photo collage between an apartment block and a Range Rover Sport
    Photo collage between an apartment block and a Range Rover Sport.
    File
  • US Department of Justice exposed a money heist which businessmen allegedly executed to exploit a government-sponsored special fund to support vulnerable kids.

    According to a statement by the US Attorney's Office for the District of Minnesota dated Tuesday, September 20, 47 individuals conspired through their proxies to orchestrate a well-oiled scheme that exploited a program designed to provide nutritious food to needy children.

    Attorney General, Merrick B.Garland, disclosed that the money stolen was north of Ksh30 billion (USD 250 million).

    At the height of the pandemic, the businessmen bought beach resorts, luxury cars, apartments, jewellery and other top-of-the-range assets in Kenya as the rest of the world was grappling with economic downtime and inflation. 

    U.S President Joe Biden on a call
    U.S President Joe Biden on a call
    US Embassy

    FBI agents who busted the scandal described it as the largest pandemic relief fraud scheme to ever hit the US.

    "The defendants went to great lengths to exploit a program designed to feed underserved children in Minnesota amidst the pandemic, fraudulently diverting millions of dollars designated for the program for their own personal gain.

    "These charges send the message that the FBI and our law enforcement partners remain vigilant and will vigorously pursue those who attempt to enrich themselves through fraudulent means," FBI Director Christopher Wray told the Department of Justice.

    One of the suspects who invested in Kenya reportedly laundered over Ksh843 million, and used the money to buy vehicles, real estate, and property and the rest was spent on vacations in different coastal towns in the country.

    He further allegedly used his company to launder the money and exploit money meant for supporting kids in Minnesota.

    According to FBI records, another defendant owned three property in Nairobi where his wife and five children lived. He infiltrated the system to access funds by forming community enhancement Services and opening multiple sites and shell companies.

    Other suspects facing fraud charges also allegedly established restaurants to help the federal government run the feeding programme in the US.

    To further hide their trails, they diversified their investment by setting up offshore accounts and amassing wealth in Ohio, Kentucky and Turkey.

    Among the property the Department of Justice is looking to seize in other overseas countries apart from Kenya include commercial real estate and residential apartments.

    "Exploiting a government program intended to feed children at the time of a national crisis is the epitome of greed," Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Justin Campbell stated.

    Inside a court room in Massachusetts
    Inside a court room in Massachusetts.
    File

    "As alleged, the defendants charged in this case chose to enrich themselves at the expense of children. Instead of feeding the future, they chose to steal from the future. IRS – Criminal Investigation is pleased to join our law enforcement partners to hold these defendants accountable," he added.

    If prosecuted, the scandal would become the biggest recorded in the US in the post-pandemic period.

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