Interpol Seeks to Probe $216 Million ‘Laundered’ From Nigeria to Kenya

For more than two months, Kenyan authorities have been investigating a string of cash transfers from Nigeria without realising that they may hold the key to unlocking the whereabouts of funds at the centre of local and international suspected money laundering rings.

Investigations by Interpol have revealed that more than $216 Million was wired into Kenya from Nigeria and Hong Kong between October and November 2020.

A source privy to the matter has since confidentially disclosed that three Nigerians suspected to enjoy the backing of a powerful Kenyan politician and two Kenyans wired the cash in US dollars and Euros to Kenyan banks through multiple companies registered locally with shared ownership and suspect addresses.

Court papers indicate that Kenya’s Assets Recovery Agency (ARA), which is investigating three companies over a quarter of the actual amount that entered Kenya, does not know the magnitude of its probe.

Local and international investigators have gathered a lot of information on the companies involved and their owners, but one question lingers: Where did the funds go to?

A local daily yesterday revealed that a network of six firms — OIT Africa, Avalon Offshore Logistics, RemX Capital Ltd, RemX Ltd, RemX Investment Partners and Multigate Ltd — moved $216 Million from Nigeria to Kenya before wiring some of the funds to countries in Europe and Asia.

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Despite confirming that ARA has yet to interrogate shareholders of the companies, the officer insisted that its investigations are ongoing and could see some of the suspects charged with money laundering and other economic crimes.

The source of the funds has puzzled local and international sleuths, who are trying to find the origin.

Interpol’s investigation has hit a brick wall, as it would need to cooperate with Kenyan and Nigerian authorities to determine when, how and why $216 Million was moved between the two countries.

The information sought by Interpol would require obtaining bank statements of all accounts where the suspect loot was stashed or moved from.

ARA’s lack of knowledge of the actual amount moved to Kenya in 2020 indicates that there is no cooperation with the agency and Interpol.

Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) boss George Kinoti did not respond to our queries on whether his agency is investigating the suspected money laundering racket.

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The DCI has an economic crimes unit, and its mandate is to provide investigation reports on such law breaking with the aim of having perpetrators jailed or fined.

ARA, on the other hand, seeks to have illicit funds forfeited to the government. The funds frozen by the High Court were part of $216 Million wired into the country from Nigeria and Hong Kong, before part of it allegedly vanished.

Two Nigerian financial technology tycoons with a history of using tax havens to avoid taxes are at the centre of investigations by ARA and Interpol. Boltpay founder Eghosasere Nehikhare and Multigate Limited founder Olubukunmi Olufemi Demuren could have started the global movement of billions from Lagos, ownership documents from the Companies’ Registry in Kenya show.

Mr Nehikhare is a graduate of the University of Oxford in the UK and is the CEO of Multigate Ltd, while Mr Demuren earned a chemical engineering degree from Cooper Union University in the US. Mr Demuren is the board chairman of Multigate Ltd.

Mutligate and RemX are among companies registered in Kenya, Dubai and Nigeria and which are at the heart of the money transfers.

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So far, Kenyan authorities have traced and frozen $48 million, pending conclusion of the investigations. The money is in six bank accounts owned by three companies.

However, investigators have so far frozen accounts of three firms — Avalon Offshore Logistics Limited, Oit Africa Limited and RemX Capital Limited. They are the owners of the accounts deposited with the money.

Two bank accounts of Avalon Offshore Logistics Limited held at Equity Bank are holding $374,630 and €3,824.66, suspected to be proceeds of crime.

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