Reports circling in Kenyan media are accusing three Nigerian businessmen of being involved in a SH25.6 billion ($220.9 million) in wired transactions that took place between October and November 2020.
According to reports seen by Nairametrics, the three Nigerians along with an unnamed Kenyan politician triggered European investigators including Interpol over large sums of dollars transferred via Kenyan banks.
The story was first reported by Business Daily Africa, a local Kenyan Business newspaper. Several other news sites in Kenya and Ghana have also reported the story.
The suspicious transactions
According to reports, the Nigerians are suspected of transferring money to bank accounts of several Kenyan shell companies ostensibly owned by them.
- A total sum of Sh25.6 billion was wired from Nigeria to Kenya from where some of the funds were now moved to Europe and Asia.
- The transfers were made between October and November 2020 when much of the world was still grappling with Covid-19.
- The transfers were made from Nigeria to the bank account of about 10 shell companies registered in Kenya. The companies are said to be registered under identical names in Kenya, Dubai, US, Nigeria and Ghana.
- According to one of the reports, the transaction was conducted in 69 tranches out of which SH3.1 billion was the highest. The money was said to be wired into a bank account owned by a company named RemX which they claim is also registered in Nigeria under the same name.
- They also claimed the transfers were able to be consummated because they used “fake invoice refactoring Service Level Agreements” which is a form of debt factoring.
Who is involved?
The report named several Nigerians claiming them to be connected to the companies that were beneficiaries of the inflows. They however did not name the so-called “influential Kenyan Politician” said to be “backing” the Nigerians. The Nigerians mentioned are as follows;
- Nehikhare Eghosasere and Demuren Olufemi Olukunmi who they claim both own RemX Ltd.
- They also mentioned Olubunmi Akinbanjo Akinyemiju as a person of interest who “created cross-continental bases and registered companies with similar names” with Eghosasere and Demuren in Kenya, Nigeria, the UAE, the US, and Europe.
- Kunmi Dumeren and Olubunmi Akinyemiju are both co-founders of Venture Garden Group which styles itself as Africa’s largest technology holding conglomerate. They invest in several growth companies engaging in Fintech as a Service, Education, Power etc.
- John Kisilu Kamusina and Evalyne Wawira Gachoki were also mentioned as Kenyan directors of RemX Ltd.
- Other companies named in the article include Multigate, Avalon Offshore Logistics Limited, Oit Africa Limited, RemX Capital Ltd, RemX Investment Partners claiming that these were the accounts that were used to receive the funds.
- Nation, a Kenyan online news site claims the accounts of Avalon Offshore Logistics Limited, Oit Africa Limited, RemX Capital Ltd have been frozen.
- Others involved are Kenyan and Nigerian banks which facilitated the transfers.
Who is investigating?
The case is reported as being investigated by the Interpol, Kenyan Asset Recovery Agency which has a mission to recover stolen assets and proceeds of crime on behalf of the people of Kenya.
- They also mentioned a ‘European Investigator” as being the source of the trigger for the investigation.
- They also indicated local and international investigators were also involved in the investigations.
- However, it appears the Kenyan and Nigerian Central Banks are yet to be involved.
- We also understand the Kenyan ARA is yet to interrogate any of the shareholders of the companies involved, questioning how credible the claims of money laundering levelled against the Nigerians are.
How funds are moved these days
Whilst this may well be a complete misconception, Nairametrics does understand some companies rely on East African offshore partners to source forex which has been scarce in Nigeria due to capital controls.
- Some of these transactions involve complex cryptocurrency facilitated transactions where local funds are converted into crypto and dollars.
- The Nigerian CBN currently has in place strict capital control measures that stifle the transfer of forex especially in 6 figures and above forcing businesses to improvise.
- Kenyan banks happen to be a viable conduit for these transactions due to their large market-friendly forex policy.
- According to Kenyan Central Bank, it “does not set the exchange rate; it is determined by the market, or supply and demand. Individual forex bureaus and commercial banks set their own rates, which are held to reasonable levels of variance and margins due to competition in the market.”
- “Typically, consumers looking to exchange smaller amounts will find more favourable rates at forex bureaus, while those looking to exchange larger amounts through foreign accounts will find better rates at commercial banks.”
- This perhaps explains why forex-related transactions flow through Kenyan Banks stimulating authorities to suspect foul play.
Nigerians engage in businesses across Africa, especially in East Africa. As such, it is not surprising to see millions of dollars of funds being transferred across the border. Nigerian businesses, especially startups also have a huge presence in East African countries such as Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and Rwanda.
No statement has been issued yet by the Nigerians mentioned in the story.
This is a developing story.