The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has linked a Ksh30 billion investment in Kenya to alleged fraud that was reported in the US.
A statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota dated Tuesday, September 20, said that 47 people collaborated through their agents to carry out a well-oiled scheme that exploited a programme intended to give healthy food to children.
To take advantage of a government-sponsored special fund to protect vulnerable children, the individuals are said to have committed a money heist, according to the US Department of Justice.
Merrick B. Garland, the Attorney General, revealed that the stolen funds were more than Ksh30 billion ($250 million). The tycoons acquired beach resorts, expensive vehicles, apartments, jewellery, and other high-value properties in Kenya during the height of the pandemic as the rest of the world struggled with inflation and economic downturn.
FBI Director Christopher Wray told the Justice Department that “The defendants went to great lengths to operate a programme designed to feed underprivileged children in Minnesota amid the pandemic, fraudulently misusing millions of dollars earmarked for the programme for their gain.”
He also added that “These charges send the message that the FBI and our law enforcement partners will remain vigilant and vigorously prosecute those who attempt to enrich themselves with fraudulent resources.”
According to reports, one of the suspects who made investments in Kenya allegedly laundered more than Ks 843 million, using the money to purchase vehicles, real estate, and other items, with the remainder going toward vacations in different coastal areas of the nation. Additionally, he is accused of using his business to misappropriate and launder funds meant for Minnesotan children’s charities.
Another accused, who resided in Nairobi with his wife and five children, owned three properties there, according to FBI data. By establishing community betterment programmes, opening several sites, and creating shell corporations, he entered the system to gain access to monies. Additionally, there are claims that additional fraud suspects opened restaurants to assist the US government’s nutrition programme.
They broadened their investments, opened offshore accounts, and accumulated riches in Ohio, Kentucky, and Turkey to further obfuscate their activities. Commercial buildings and residential units are among the property types that the Ministry of Justice intends to confiscate in nations other than Kenya.
The scandal would become the biggest recorded in the US during a pandemic if it were to be prosecuted.
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