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How foreigners nearly lost Sh5.8 million in AFCON 2027 fraud scheme

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Police affidavit details fraud at the office of Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi, as suspects Salim Swaleh and others appear in court.

The foreigners nearly conned at the office of Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi had been lured from South Africa and Dubai, the UAE, on the promise of tenders to construct two stadia for the 2027 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) games.

The foreigners, who were to be defrauded of $45,000 (Sh5,782,500) as registration fees before securing the tenders, were duped into thinking that after a meeting at the office, they would meet other government officials from the Interior and Sports ministries.

Others the victims were to meet include two senators in the parliamentary Budget committee and the Sports committee to secure the tender to build the stadia

The details of the fraud thwarted by intelligence officers are contained in an affidavit filed in court by Inspector of Police Nicholas Njoroge of the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) headquarters.

The DCI is seeking court orders to detain Salim Swaleh, the press services director at Mudavadi's office, and five others to conclude investigations into alleged fraud at the office. They were arrested inside Salim's office, where they were meeting the foreigners.

The other suspects are Michale Japolo Otieno, Terry Kemunto Sese, Daniel Omondi John Musundi and James William Makokha.  Salim was arrested for allowing them to meet the foreigners at his office.

"The first respondent (Michale Otieno) personated himself as the chairman of the government delivery unit domiciled at the office of the PCS and would assist the foreigners to speed up the tendering process," Njoroge stated in his affidavit filed at the Milimani Law Courts in Nairobi.

Njoroge, of the DCI's Operation Support Unit (OSU), was making an application before Senior Principal Magistrate Benmark Ekhumbi to be allowed to detain the suspects at the Capitol Hill Police Station for 14 days.

The detective said he was investigating a case of conspiracy to commit a felony, an attempt to obtain money by false pretences, personating a person employed in the public service, and abuse of office in contravention of the criminal procedure code.

Njornge said there was a breach in security protocols in the way the foreigners were allowed into the office at the Kenya Railways headquarters and the same is under investigation.

He said he needed to interview a UAE-based contractor, who was also a victim of the fraud, to obtain company registration details from relevant offices in Kenya, Dubai, and South Africa, adding the six were likely to interfere with the investigations if released before completion of the inquiry.

Lawyers Danstan Omari, Samuel Nyamberi and Shandrack Wambui, representing the six, opposed the application by the DCI.

They said the investigations did not require the suspects to be in custody because they did not work in the offices from where the DCI was seeking documents and had no influence over them.

Appealing for his clients' release, Omari prayed for a cash bail of Sh200,000 for all except Sese, who sought more lenient terms.

The suspects will be held at the Capitol Hill station until Tuesday when the court will deliver its ruling.

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