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BoT scam suspect charged in UK

Discussion in 'Habari na Hoja mchanganyiko' started by Ng'wanza Madaso, Jul 14, 2009.

  1. Ng'wanza Madaso

    Ng'wanza Madaso JF-Expert Member

    Jul 14, 2009
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    BoT scam suspect charged in UKBy The Citizen Reporters

    A Kenyan businessman, Ketan Somaia, who is wanted in Tanzania for allegedly swindling billions of shillings from the central bank, has been charged with fraud in the UK.

    The UK High Commission in Nairobi said the businessman was, however, released on bail. He is facing three counts of theft and fraud in a UK court.

    Mr Somaia is among the key suspects who defrauded the Bank of Tanzania (BoT) of Sh180 billion through the infamous Commodity Import Support (CIS) scheme.

    He was extradited to Britain from India last Wednesday, more than six months after he was detained at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport following a notice issued by Interpol.

    An Indian newspaper, the Daily Mirror said a team of British police headed by escort officer Peter Thody took him into custody from the Mumbai Crime Branch at the airport on Wednesday afternoon.

    The UK High Commission in Kenya confirmed the extradition, adding that Mr Somaia had appeared in court on Thursday.

    Mr Somaia allegedly siphoned �400,000 (Sh848 million) off Hemini Plc.

    He is said to have fraudulently transferred �400,000 by representing that he was entitled to sell shares of Delphis Bank (Mauritius).

    In addition, he is accused of stealing �100,000 from the firm on April 16, 2002.

    Through Interpol, the UK government issued a red corner notice for Somaia, on the basis of which he was detained by the CBI in Mumbai on December 18, 2008.

    The UK had sought the Kenyan's extradition since then, but he complained of health problems.

    He was first admitted at a private heart care hospital in BKC and subsequently at a private critical care hospital in Juhu, where he remained until the extradition.

    Mr Somaia rose to prominence in Kenya with a questionable contract in the mid 1980s to supply the 1987 All Africa Games in Nairobi.

    The businessman is a former sponsor of the Miss World competition through his Dolphin hotels, banking and motor trading group.

    Other countries that have reportedly requested Mr Somaia�s extradition are Uganda and Mauritius.

    In Tanzania, he allegedly established the defunct Delphis Bank, which he used to siphon millions of shillings off the BoT under the CIS scheme.

    The multi-million dollar scheme has been at the centre of controversy for many years after it was used by some companies to defraud the central bank.

    Despite numerous calls for thorough investigations to track down the culprits, no one has been arrested in connection with the massive fraud.

    The Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau has for a long time been investigating the scandal. However, the corruption watchdog is yet to prosecute anyone.

    Earlier this year, the Government appointed a private broker to hunt down the companies that are suspected to have swindled public funds through the scheme.

    But the broker, an independent debt collection company, is now reportedly seeking police assistance to recover at least part of Sh180 billion looted from the scheme.

    Its executive director Ibrahim Msolopa was recently quoted in a local newspaper as saying some of the debtors had resorted to threatening the debt collectors.

    According to media reports, Mr Msolopa linked unidentified "various prominent politicians" and their spouses with the CIS scandal. He accused them of refusing to repay their debts.

    "We are currently waiting for a response to our letter sent to the Ministry of Home Affairs, in which we requested police assistance in our task,"Mr Msolopa said, according to the reports.

    A number of high-profile businessmen with connections to senior politicians are also said to have flatly refused to repay their debts.

    Instead, Mr Msolopa said, they were using "harsh and threatening language" when confronted to honour their obligations.

    The broker said the authorities had decided to postpone plans to publicly name and shame the reported 40 defaulters.

    A tripartite meeting comprising senior officials from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs, Tanzania Revenue Authority and the debt collection agency will determine the next move against the bad debtors.

    The list of defaulters will be disclosed after three parties hold the meeting, according to Mr Msolopa.

    In his latest audit report, Controller and Auditor General Ludovick Utuoh mentioned the CIS funds scam as among major pending issues the Government needed to urgently address.