Kenyan Asian tycoons hiding money in Swiss bank accounts


27 Apr 2015 | by GW Investigations
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Kenyan Asian tycoons hiding money in Swiss bank accounts

A handful of Kenyans among them politicians, businessmen and their wives have stashed more than sh51 billion in Swiss accounts, The Gazette Weekly can authoritatively report.

Those whose names feature include the who-is-who in the Kenyan political and business sector. The money they hold in offshore accounts can comfortably run the ministry of  of Health for a whole year. The ministry's 2014/15 allocation was Sh 47 billion.

The funds can also pay teachers salaries for four months at Sh 54 billion and run both National Intelligence Service (NIS) and Parliament budget's combined for twelve months.  The  annual budget for teachers, NIS and Parliament is Sh 163 billion, Sh 26 billion and Sh 17 billion respectively.

When the report came out a month ago, the local daily newspapers  only named Machakos senator Johnstone Muthama as one of those who have stashed huge sums of money in foreign bank accounts, The Gazette Weekly brings you details of other individuals no one wants to talk about, many of whom are Asian- Kenyans.

Besides Muthama in the Senate, his Embu counterpart Lenny Kivuti is also named by the dossier which was downloaded by a former security expert at the giant bank, HSBC and they were released over the weekend by ICIJ. 

Kivuti is named together with his wife Hilda Kanini Kivuti. The Embu senator is a man of means and owns the seven story Geomaps in Nairobi among other notable properties in the city.

 He once was given a contract by the city council to map out the properties around the city. It is believed he was paid a substantial amount for assisting NCC locate some of its properties that should have been paying rent and land levies.

However, the highest amount of money held by an individual stands at sh3.27 billion. The owner of this account is not named by a leaked report compiled by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

It is not the first time that Kenyan politicians and businessmen have been accused of stashing their cash away from the prying eyes of Kenyan banks and curious members of the public.

Apart from the politicians, the Goldenberg scandal architect, Paul Kamlesh Pattni is also named in the list.

ICIJ does not also reveal how much the businessman has stashed in the Swiss account. Suffice to say, it must be substantial given the amount of money Pattni is accused is siphoning from the Central bank for pretending to export gold.

In the same league is the Kamani family of the patriarch Chamanlal Kamani and his two sons among them the well-known Deepak plus daughter Rashmi. 

Kamanis have a history dating back to supplying boilers to the prisons department during the days. Then, retired President Moi oversaw the prisons docket in the 1970s asa vice-president. 

The younger Kamani (Deepak)  was the brains behind the Anglo leasing scandal which was executed during the last days of the Moi rule and inherited by Mwai Kibaki's government in 2003.

Deepak, together with other businessmen and politicians hatched a scheme in which all security contracts would fall under them.

They sought to have the contracts to supply goods and services which they inflated . It is estimated more than sh40 billion was lost in 18 contracts signed under Anglo Leasing. At least four Kamanis feature in the list of shame of those who have stashed their cash in foreign banks.

Also making an appearance in the list is another businessman of Asian extraction who is on the run, Yagnesh Devani. 

The tycoon who ripped off Kenyans through the Triton oil company appears together with two other relatives, Hashmat Devani and Sudhir Krishna Chotai Devani. The amount stashed away is not given but while fleeing, he left Kenyans sh4 billion poorer.

Naushad Merali, the chairman of Sameer Group of companies whose head office is along Mombasa road is also named as a man with A Swiss account too. 

Merali's wealth can be traced way back during the Kenyatta days but received a major boost during the Moi days. Indeed, in some instances, Merali would sit on the board of some organisations on behalf of Moi.

That's how close the two got that when the mobile technology landed in Kenya Merali was granted a licence to run Celtel which has changed hands severally to what is today known as airtel. 

Merali is believed to have made a substantial profit from the sale of the majority shares in Celtel. He is among the selected 742 Kenyans with an account in the Swiss bank. He is named together with Wair Ismail Merali.

An interesting entry is that of Joshua Kipchumba Chepkwony and his wife Hellen Jerotich. Joshua is the boss of Jamii Telkom and also the properietor of the Kalenjin station, Kass FM. There's is no doubt that Chepkwony is a man of means. ICIJ is quick to point out that the accounts are not necessarily illegal or used to stash stolen funds.

A strange inclusion is he wife of a one-time managing director of the Kenya Railways, the late Julius Mimano, one Rose Mimano. Rose runs Electronic Power Communications limited whose offices are at Ufanisi House, along Haile Sellasie avenue, Nairobi. 

The company was set up by the late Mimano in 1991 and now teams up with Safaricom as an authorised dealer and an installer with DSTV among others. The papers do not reveal how much Rose has stashed away.

Former Permanent Secretary and Bungoma politician Joseph Muliro is also an account holder in Switzerland.  Muliro lost his Sirisia parliamentary seat to John Munyasia in 1992 and retreated back to private life. No amount of money is given for the account. Bandied together with Kenyans is the former managing director of the PTA bank, Martin Ogang. Although a Ugandan, Ogang lived in Nairobi where the PTA bank has its headquarters. This could be the reason why he is listed as Kenyan. The documents contain records of some 30,000 accounts kept by HSBC Swiss subsidiary between 1975 and 2007. The accounts hold an estimated $120 billion and were tied to politicians, royalty, designers and sports figures in every part of the world.  Kenya is listed as number 58 in the world for countries with large amounts of money stashed in Swiss acounts. It beats by far its neighbours like Tanzania (100) and Uganda (105).

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