Detectives investigates Safaricom, banks involvement in Dusit terror attack

Following the riverside terror attack that left 21 people dead, the Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti is considering charges against officials from the CBK Supervision Department, the Financial Reporting Center, Safaricom’s M-Pesa Supervision Department and officials from Standard Chartered Bank, Kenya Commercial Bank, Equity Bank, Diamond Trust Bank and Cooperative Bank.

Detectives are investigating how Sh9 million used to finance the Dusit terror attack was sent through the M-Pesa network.

The Anti-Terror Police Unit now has the Central Bank of Kenya, the Financial Reporting Center, Diamond Trust Bank and Safaricom on the radar over the Dusit attack on January 15 that claimed 21 lives.

Suspects in the Dusit terror attack at a Milimani court on Wednesday, January 23, 2019. /COLLINS KWEYU

The specific charges will be determined by the evidence and culpability at each institution, police investigating officers said.

“We will go for each and every person from the banking sector to the mobile money transfer networks that were lax in their work,” Kinoti told the Star yesterday.

He did not state how soon the arrests would be made and charges filed, though highly placed sources said the investigations were complete and the files have been forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji for approval.

“We don’t think we have done anything wrong. People use Mpesa to bring money into the country and withdraw it using standard

procedures,” said Bob Collymore, CEO of Safaricom, yesterday. He confirmed that a Safaricom team had met the DCI last week to explain Mpesa procedures.

“Suspicious transactions are reported to the Financial Reporting Centre. If we see irregular transactions from certain parts of the country or world, we will file a Suspicious Transaction Report. We did file STRs on some of the Dusit transfers. We also terminated their Mpesa tills before the Dusit attack,” he said.

Initial investigations had revealed that one of the terror suspects, Hassan Nur, received Sh9 million from South Africa through M-Pesa over three months. The cash was then sent to Somalia where al Shabaab is based.

Nur had 52 M-Pesa agent accounts with 47 of them were registered between October and December last year, each with a SIM card. He used different IDs to register the SIM cards.

The transactions were made at DTB Eastleigh branch. Branch manager Sophia Mbogo has already been arrested by the Antiterror

DCI believes the money transfer systems and the banks run between them failed to raise sufficient alarm over the funds suspected to have financed the terror attack.

Kenya’s world-famous mobile money is powered by mobile money networks, banks and hundreds of thousands of agents all around the country.

The Central Bank supervises banks through its supervision department while the Financial Reporting Centre is mandated to look into suspicious transactions following notification by the banks.

Law enforcement agencies are trying to unravel the money movement system to prevent similar transactions in the future.

Last week Haji received a file from the DCI indicting five banks over their role in the Sh1 billion NYS scandal.

Kinoti has since revealed that investigators had recommended criminal charges be levelled against the chief executives of the five major banks, in addition to harsh penalties on the institutions.

In a press statement, Haji said he had set up a team of senior prosecutors to independently review the files and make recommendations within 14 days.

Should the DPP approve the recommendation to press criminal charges, it could be the first time that top bank chiefs.

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