The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) investigators unraveled an intricate money laundering scheme orchestrated by more than 47 suspects. According to the sleuths, the suspects defrauded the United States Ksh30 billion, money meant to mitigate the Covid-19 pandemic but was instead subverted to the suspects accounts. They went on a shopping spree acquiring prime beachfront homes in Diani, expensive jewellery, high end apartments in Turkey, Nairobi and Dubai and exotic vehicles like Porsche and Tesla.
Here is what WoK has gathered about the elaborate con game.
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The suspects in this grand theft created fake companies and food distribution sites that purported to serve meals to thousands of underprivileged children in Minnesota State uner the Federal Children Nutrition Programs (FCNP). The fake companies received payments amounting to billions from state-approved sponsors.
According to the Daily Nation, the US government had done away with some standard requirements for participation in the FCNP, giving room to profit-oriented restaurants to participate in the food distribution to children outside of educational programmes.
This gave birth to hundreds of shell companies that purported to supply and serve children across Minnesota and received hundreds of million of US dollars.
The investigations exposed how two sponsors named as Sponsor A and Feed Our Future, made millions of dollars by slashing a proportion of the cash wired from the federal government.
They then went ahead to distribute the remaining funds to the firms that owned the food-distribution sites. Through a series of bribery, kickbacks, fake claims and falsified invoices, the group is said to have made around Ksh30 billion for supplying air.
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Key suspects in the scheme who were based in Minnesota include Abdiaziz Shafii Farah, Mohamed Jama Ismail, Mohamed Ibrahim, Abdimajid Mohamed Nur, Said Shaffii Farah, Abdiwahab Maalim Aftin, Mukjhtar Mohammed Shariff, Hayat Mohamed Nur, Liban Yasin Alishire, Ahmed Yasi and Khadar Jigre Adan. It is believed that they registered at least 30 FCNP sites using shell companies such as ThinkTech Act or Mind Foundry (Mohamed Ibrahim), The Free Minded Institute, Empire Enterprises LLC (Abdiaziz Farah), MIB Holdings (Mohamed Ibrahim), Nur Consulting (Abdimajid Nur), Bushra Wholesalers (Abdiwahab Aftin), MZ Market LLC (Mohamed Ismail), Afrique Hospitality Group (Mukhtar Shariff) and Empire Cuisine and Market (Abdiaziz Farah).
Spending the billions
After illegally obtaining the funds, investigations reveal that the suspects acquired prime beachfront homes in Kenya, Turkey and the United States. They also bought expensive jewellery, high end apartments in Dubai and Nairobi (South B and South C) and the remaining was used to buy exotic vehicles including the latest brands of Ford, Porsches, Hyundai and Teslas. According to a report by Nation, in diverse dates between May 2021 and February this year, the suspects acquired properties worth over USD 169.9 million.
For example, on 4th May 2021, Abdimajid Nur and Abdiaziz Farah transferred approximately Ksh 24.28 million from Empire Enterprises to Capital View Properties Limited which is based in Nairobi. A few days later on 11th May, the same guys transferred another Ksh 36.42 million from Empire Enterprises to the same Capital View Properties limited. On May 16th 2021 Ksh 12 million was wired from Empire Cuisine and Market to Bushra Wholesalers by Said Farah.
A day later, Abdiwahab Aftin transferred Ksh24.28 million from Bushra Wholesalers to Capital View Properties Limited to acquire real estate property in Nairobi. On 1st June 2021, Ksh24.28 million was transferred from Empire Enterprises to Capital View. On 22nd September 2021, Liban Alishire sent Ksh6.9 million to Individual B.F at Banque Cantonale de Geneve towards Ksh 26.22 million from Hoodoo Properties to Jaafar Jelle and Company for the purchase of a housing unit at Karibu Palms Resort in Diani. On 19th January 2022, Ksh 10.3 million was transferred by Liban Alishire from Hoodo Properties to Abdulrahman Saad for the purchase of a five-bedroom mansion in Nairobi. Abdiaziz Shafii told the FBI that he had invested over Ksh 728.4 million in Kenya in just three years while Mohamed Ismail Jama revealed that he owned three properties in Nairobi where his wife and five children live.
The investigations further unraveled how Abdulaziz Farah spent millions of dollars to purchase properties in different parts of Minnesota. For example, On 15th April 2021, he purchased a single family home in Savage, Minnesota at Ksh69 million. On 7th July 2021, he acquired two lake-front lots in Minnesota at Ksh 126.2 million. He also purchased a 2021 Porsche Macan worth Ksh 3.5 million in the same month. On 21st August 2021, he bought a GMC Sierra pick-up truck worth Ksh 9.8 million, paid Ksh 18.2 million for the construction of a lake-front house near Prior Lake, Minnesota and acquired a townhouse in Burnsville, Minnesota at Ksh 40.6 million on 21st October 2021. On 9th June 2021, Mukhtar Shariff purchased a Ksh 30.3 million cheque from Afrique Hospitality Group to Individual I.M. On 27th May 2021, Mohamed Ismail purchased a townhouse at Edgewood Avenue, Savage, Minnesota at Ksh 16.9 million. On 1st September 2021, Abdimajid Nur acquired jewelry worth Ksh 3.6 million from Farhia Jewelry in Dubai.
By the time the suspects were arrested, they had pocketed Ksh30 billion and had over Ksh 14 billion stashed in their bank accounts, held through their own companies, shell outfits, relatives and other proxies.