Hawala manager arrested in crackdown on illegal money transfer in Nairobi

Hawala is a traditional system of transferring money used whereby the money is paid to an agent who then instructs an associate in the relevant country or area to pay the final recipient. [ picture courtesy]
A manager at a Hawala joint in Nairobi was on Wednesday arrested accused of illegally transferring money to Somalia in a crackdown aimed at addressing suspicious and illegal financing.

The manager was arrested in Eastleigh as Anti-Terror Police Unit backed by officials from banking fraud unit officials raided ten financial joints to check on transfers that had been made then.

It emerged the manager transferred the unknown amount of money to Somalia to an undisclosed recipient.

Police said they are also investigating cash transfers linked to corruption, fraud and terror support inside Somalia from Kenya.

Head of ATPU John Gachomo said their actions had disrupted many planned movements of illicit money.

“The managers of these financial institutions need to be careful with what they do. This is about our safety in general. Don’t allow people to finance corruption and terrorism,” he said.

He added they will continue to monitor activities of various financial institutions in relation to the movement of illegal cash that is later used to finance crime.

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Other officials said those with intent to send dirty money are changing tactics but warned of dire consequences when detected and nabbed.

Hawala is a traditional system of transferring money used whereby the money is paid to an agent who then instructs an associate in the relevant country or area to pay the final recipient.

The arrest comes weeks after a bank manager suspected of facilitating the financing of the dusitD2 hotel attack which left 21 people dead, via huge M-Pesa transactions, was charged in court.

Sophia Njoki Mbogo, a DTB Eastleigh branch manager pleaded not guilty to three offences after she was charged with failure to report suspicious activity regarding proceeds of crime and anti-money laundering, aiding and abetting the commission of a terrorism Act, as well as failure to report a suspicious transaction amounting to Sh34.7 million.

The prosecution said the accused committed the said offenses between December 4, 2018, and January 5 at her place of work.

The prosecution said she failed to stop transactions of the said monies yet the required withdrawal was not supposed to exceed Sh100,000 as per the proceeds of crime and anti-money laundering Act.

She had said that the bank does not have any accounts with any known terror suspects but the police accused her of allowing huge sums of money to be cashed within a very short period of time with no evidence required.

Police had previously told the court that one of the suspects, Hassan Abdi Nur, operated an M-Pesa business in which he allegedly registered 47 accounts in October last year out of a total of 52 in the last three months of 2018.

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HawalaAnti-Terror Police UnitSomalia