For a long time, Kikuyus had been labelled as the most corrupt Kenyan community until recently when names from the Kalenjin community began to be mentioned in every other corruption scandal — prompting Kenyans to wonder whether the sons and daughters of Mumbi are slowly losing grip on the crown they’ve proudly worn for decades.
However, unlike popular belief, neither Kikuyus nor Kalenjins are Kenya’s most corrupt. In fact, if we are to honour this blog’s main virtue of truthfulness, those responsible for some of the worst vices in the country are none other than the Indians.
From serial looters, fraudsters, drug dealers, money launders. You name it.
To prove this, we at kenyantribune.com have put together a list of the number of times members of the Indian community in Kenya have been mentioned in high profile cases of the crimes mentioned above.
What better candidate to start off our than this businessman-cum-spiritual leader?
Controversial businessman Kamlesh Mansukhal Damji Pattni was thrust into the limelight over three decades ago by the multi-billion-shilling Goldenberg scandal.
For over a decade, Pattni was in and out of court fighting accusations ranging from theft to fraud, forgery to tax evasion.
Described by some as one of the shrewdest businessmen, Pattni’s story is a one of the proverbial man with nine lives.
He was at one time accused of bribing then Opposition leader, octogenarian Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, to compromise investigations into his controversial Goldenberg scheme — a claim vehemently denied by the man who led Pattni to him, lawyer and politician Paul Muite.
But of all the controversies he waded through, two stood out — the Goldenberg scandal and the fight over duty-free shops at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
In the Goldenberg case, Pattni was paid billions of shillings for what would later be called fictitious gold and diamond exports.
In 2016, the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), consumer goods manufacturer Bidco Africa and a senator were sued for colluding to deny taxpayers Sh5.7 billion in unpaid dues.
Activist Okiya Omtatah Okoiti accused Bidco Africa Chief Executive Officer Vimal Shah of ensuring that the company did not pay taxes over the years.
In the civil suit filed at the High Court in Nairobi, Trans Nzoia Senator Henry ole Ndiema is alleged to have broken the law when he exempted Bidco Africa from paying taxes when he served as a civil servant in the Ministry of Finance in the 1990s.
Mr Omtatah was relying on a whistle-blower’s report that had alleged Bidco had survived by not paying its rightful share of taxes since then.
Mr Omtatah also relied on a High Court decision of 2012 allowing KRA to collect tax arrears and other fees amounting to Sh1.3 billion from Bidco Africa.
Mr Shah is prominent in Kenya’s business circles. In June 2015, President Uhuru Kenyatta appointed him to be Chancellor of Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology for a period of five years.
According to the suit papers, the report showed that the company omitted from its returns amounts which should have been included and claimed relief or refund to which it was not entitled.
The company was also accused of having made incorrect statement which affected its liability to tax and preparing false records of account.
Unscrupulous Kenyan wheeler dealer Mukesh Gohil at one time risked a heavy fine and imprisonment after he was arrested for attempting to smuggle ivory through the Dubai International Airport.
The Indian-Kenyan-British cowboy contractor was intercepted by hawk-eyed UAE police and customs officials who did not disclose how the smuggler was apprehended, but sources suggested the ivory was suspected to originate from Kenya and was destined for southern Chinese city of Guangzhou.
Sources from Dubai confirmed that Gohil, who holds dual citizenship, was desperately trying to reach handlers of Mama Ngina Kenyatta in an attempt to getting the former influential first lady to intervene and have him freed.
Other sources said Gohil had tried and failed to get Baringo Senator Gideon Moi to press buttons to enable him gain freedom.
Mukesh Gohil is one of the most notorious and dangerous barons of grand corruption in Kenya. His name has been associated with most of the largest scandals in the country and he remains the ruthless kingpin of the decades of plundering of state coffers that went on in Kenya in the 1980s and 1990s.
Mohamed H. Jaffer
Mohammed H Jaffer is the powerful tycoon who was once linked to the brazen grabbing of riparian land at Kibarani, Mombasa County.
According to the National Land Commission, Jaffer’s Grainbulk Handlers Limited had irregularly grabbed up to 43 acres of the Indian Ocean within Kibarani, disrupting the livelihoods of thousands of fishermen and negatively impacting the ecosystem of the region.
However, President Uhuru Kenyatta directed the National Land Commission to revoke Kibarani dumpsite land allocation to “private developer” which was Grainbulk Handlers Ltd (GBHL).
Multi-billionaire Jaffer is the founder of the MJ Group, East Africa’s largest provider of clearing and forwarding services. His GBHL owns a grain terminal that specializes in the discharge and handling of bulk grain cargo at the Port of Mombasa.
GBHL boasts a turnover of $15 million and is the flagship company of MJ Group. Jaffer’s other business interests include Mbaraki Bulk Terminal in Mombasa, which deals in petroleum products; Africa Gas and Oil Company operating an LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas) terminal at the port; Great Lakes Port Ltd as well as a container freight station at Changamwe in Mombasa that’s due for implementation. Other projects awaiting implementation include dry ports for Tororo, Uganda and Miritini in Mombasa.
GBHL was listed by NLC as among politically well connected tycoons who have encroached the sea and put up multibillion shillings properties including container freight stations and offices near the port of Mombasa.
Jaffer controversially built his business empire by leveraging on political patronage and was at one time the main benefactor of ODM Party Leader Raila Odinga when he served as Prime Minister.
According to sources in Mombasa, as soon as Jaffer fell out with Raila he struck up a new relationship with DP William Ruto. Jaffer promised the DP political support in exchange of political protection. He is the force behind the defection of Opposition MPs to Ruto’s Jubilee faction.
Jaffer’s influence is not limited to the executive arm of government. He is reputed to be close to high ranking judges in the judiciary including Court of Appeal judge Alnasir Visram. So strong is his influence that one of his sons is employed at the Court of Appeal.
It is the reason Jaffer wins majority of cases filed against him or any of his firms; be it a demand by KRA for back taxes or against Kenya Railways whose huge tracts of land around the port of Mombasa GBHL has irregularly used to secure bank loans amounting to a staggering Sh45 billion.
When British Prime Minister Theresa May visited the country in 2018, one of the agreements she signed was on the tracing and returning of Kenyan loot hidden in UK and its territories.
And that means Britain will not be an enclave for those escaping justice, too.
One of the pending cases, and which Kenya has been silent on, involves fugitive businessman Yagnesh Devani — who is still fighting to stop extradition to face fraud charges in Nairobi.
The Supreme Court refused to give hearing to a UK oil company, Glencore Energy, which wanted to siphon Sh4 billion from Kenya Pipeline from of a failed dealing with Triton Petroleum Limited — a company run by the wanted fugitive, who is the kingpin of the Triton oil scandal.
The saga of Triton and Glencore is the tale of two companies that fraudulently wanted to circumvent laws in Kenya and corruptly do business. Either they conspired to steal oil or one conned the other.
Before he surfaced in London, Mr Devani had apparently pulled off one of the biggest oil scams in the country. With the help of Kenya Pipeline officials, political and business connections, the fugitive managed to have 96,000 tonnes of processed petroleum worth Sh7.6 billion released to him without authorisation from the financiers of the cargo.
He then took off leaving his financiers, who included KCB and PTA banks, Fortis Bank of Netherlands, Glencore Energy UK Limited and Emirates National Oil Corporation (ENOC) of Singapore, running helter-skelter looking for their money. Their rendezvous with the absconding businessman had come to an end.
In the middle of 2018, police impounded 2000 bags of contraband sugar that was later said to have been contaminated with other toxic elements chief among those mercury. Many more netting of contraband sugar would follow that would lead to the setting up of a parliamentary committee to probe the matter.
This ended with allegations bribery where Members of the National Assembly were shamefully bribed with as low as Kshs, 10,000 to doctor the report.
The owner of the sugar was one Jaswant Rai using other proxies.
The head of the Flying Squad unit that netted the sugar Mr. Musa Yego later stated that the sugar was to be transported to Mumias and Kabras sugar for ‘refining’.
What the police didn’t say is that Jaswant Rai, the owner of Kabras Sugar was the one behind all these.
Jaswant Rai owns West Kenya Sugar that packages “Kabras sugar”, Olepito Sugar in Busia a subsidiary of West Kenya, Sukari Industries in Ndhiwa and Kinyara sugar in Uganda; he is also the owner of other companies such as the wood processing company Raiply among others.
Rai has rose through the ‘ranks’ to create a sugar monopoly in Kenya. The methods he used are akin to how drug barons conquer territories and expand their drug business; in short conniving, bribery, coercion, threats and even ‘death’.
The fall of Mumias Sugar Company (MSC) has often been pegged largely on office-sitters who looted the sugar miller, but no one ever mentions loudly that it is Jaswant Rai’s underhand tactics of cane poaching that ultimately brought Mumias Sugar Company down.
Secondly, through Raiply, Jaswant Rai ensured that Webuye Paper Mills dies. He sabotaged the paper miller through bribery of top politicians and having pacts with the Kenya Forest Service (KFS), which he now sits at the board representing the forest industry.
The perennial opening ceremonies of Webuye Panpaper factory is carried out to hoodwink the public for votes by the clueless (or maybe they know but don’t care) central Kenya mafia.
What Rai did with the death of Webuye Paper mills was to use it as a storehouse for contraband sugar, where as an headquarter, he can capture the whole of the Western Region sugar producing belt, by pretending to be crushing sugarcanes to produce sugar in fake factories opened and owned by him and make a killing.
Zafrullah Khan served as former chairman of one of the banks at the heart of Kenya’s 2016 Banking crisis. Zafrullah Khan, the ex-chairman of Chase Bank Kenya was in 2017 arrested by detectives from the Banking Fraud Unit and arraigned.
Mr Khan was taken in for questioning by police over allegations of accounting irregularities, theft, money laundering and his role in the bank’s collapse in April 2016.
At the insistence of the Central Bank, Khan & Mr Kabui stepped down as the bank’s chairman and CEO respectively over the credibility of the bank’s financial statements.
Mr Khan was accused of having falsified Chase Bank’s accounts to illegally draw Sh7.9 billion in personal loans without sufficient security as required by the Central Bank of Kenya.
As a result, the Central Bank of Kenya started legal action against him and others in an attempt to recover the stolen cash. The then State prosecutor Keriako Tobiko also opened a series of proceedings against most of Chase Bank’s former executives suspected of malicious acts and ruinous management.
Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) seized property belonging to the Bank’s former executives including Mr Khan’s family.
The late Imperial Bank boss and his clients were the masterminds behind the theft of Sh34 billion of depositors’ funds.
Documents filed by Imperial Bank in court show that the former group MD, Abdulmalek Janmohamed who collapsed and died after the ‘inside job’ was exposed, initiated a scheme together with WE Tilley (Muthaiga) Ltd, whose accounts were used to siphon the money via its various subsidiaries from 2002 to 215.
The Sameer Africa chairman is probably one of the most scandalous Indians in Kenya. This man was once conned while trying to get a favour from Uhuru.
Seven suspects accused of defrauding Sameer Africa chairman Naushad Merali Sh10 million after mimicking the voice of President Uhuru Kenyatta were charged.
They were charged with conspiring to defraud Mr Merali by pretending they were in a position to sell him a parcel of land in Milimani, Nairobi.
This scandals exposed the underhand deals of the millionaire
Named in Parliament in 2010 and subsequently named at the trial hearing of the Akasha brothers in the United States, Ali Punjani is no stranger to links in the drugs underworld.
Networked, deep pocketed in net worth and influential at the Coast, that is the reclusive business tycoon Ali Punjani now wanted for narcotics.
Reportedly with 19 police officers guarding his Nyali home, the business tycoon demonstrated his deep rooted networks with the country’s influential high and mighty.
In 2009 at a funds drive to help residents of Faza Island in Lamu after a fire engulfed their homes, Punjani made a personal contribution of Ksh.6 million in the presence of former President Mwai Kibaki and then Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
In 2010, the then Internal Security Minister George Saitoti named Punjani among suspected drug lords in the country.
The list contained in a dossier prepared by the United States embassy during US Ambassador Michael Rannebergers tenure was handed to the EACC then Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission under the leadership of PLO Lumumba.
Punjani is also a well networked individual within government circles.
In 2017, the rivalry between two alleged biggest drug lord families burst into open on the new year’s eve after Punjani and the Akasha brothers were involved in a club fight in Mombasa where guns were drawn and shots fired.
The two families were fighting over control of the Coastal region to take charge of the drugs underworld.
The aftermath, was five people were injured with Ali Punjani’s aide seriously injured and stayed in a comma for four good days with a serious head injury.
Both the Akasha’s and Punjani were charged with fighting in public and were released on a Ksh.50,000 cash bail. The case is still active.
To amplify the bad blood between the two families, in the trial of the Akasha brothers in the US where they are facing drug trafficking charges, Punjani was named as a fierce rival drug lord of the Akasha Empire.
But to underpin Punjani’s deep connection within government, reportedly before the raid on his residence on Monday, a contingent of 19 armed security officers guarding his Nyali home were withdrawn to pave way for the raid.
Begging the question, a suspected drug lord once named in parliament and in a court of law in the United States commanding a near whole police station guarding his home, was the government aware of such a heavy deployment of officers to guard one person and his suspected drug empire at the expense of the already limping police force?
The Akasha brothers
Government officials sustained the Akasha family drug empire through an elaborate bribery scheme and shielded them so much so that the US connived to airlift them away.
Materials adduced ahead of the sentencing of two Akasha brothers — Baktash and Ibrahim — show that they had successfully managed to stall their own extradition cases by first obtaining bail, repeated adjournments and generally slowing the wheel of justice.
In an indictment of the Kenyan judiciary, the US attorney prosecuting the case told the judges that senior State officials who were tired of the ping pong in the corridors of justice decided “they should be expelled to USA”.Their lawyer claimed they were kidnapped from Kenya, but the US attorney said there were credible fears that witnesses could not be flown to testify in what was described as a largely corrupted proceeding.
Industrialist and “Philanthropist” Manu Chandaria has always been exposed as a high profile conman by various banking officials.
A few monthss ago, local dailies carried a story that Kaluworks Limited, a manufacturing firm that is part of billionaire Manu Chandaria’s Comcraft Group, was facing the auctioneer’s hammer over non-payment of multiple debts worth an estimated Sh6 billion.
Kaluworks is indebted to among other lenders I&M Bank, which has already published notices for the auction of the company’s assets.
The company also owes NIC Bank and Bank of Baroda loans that are currently not performing, in addition to hundreds of millions of shillings in a commercial paper whose repayments it has defaulted on.
Posing as a philanthropist, Manu Chandaria always goes to banks for loans but never pays in the long last. When business and all things are good, the companies are his till they fall into trouble and auctioneers knock on the door just like the Kalu works saga.