Bomb squad called to bank’s safe as DCI chief Kinoti visits scene

Suspect fraudsters Erick Adede (right) in a maroon hoodie being assisted by a plain clothed police officer outside Barclays Queensway branch in Nairobi on March 20, 2019. [Edward Kiplimo/Standard]
The bomb disposal unit was yesterday called to Barclays Bank Queensway Branch after a suspicious package was discovered in a safe deposit box.

The bomb squad arrived shortly before Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti left.

Mr Kinoti yesterday spent three hours at the bank seeking to know how and why the management allowed individuals to store uninspected cargo.

He also demanded to know why the bank allowed the owners of safe deposit boxes to use the privacy of the vault to con unsuspecting Kenyans.

“I will talk to you later. This thing seems to be massive and many people are suffering,” said Kinoti.

The bomb squad entered the vault and emerged with a safe deposit box weighing 70kg, which they said they would open at a secure location. They later reported that it contained fake gold.

Business continued as usual in the banking hall as the bomb squad went in.

Police had on Tuesday bust a syndicate that had stashed fake Sh2 billion in dollars at the bank. Six people were arrested.

Yesterday, two people came forward and admitted to detectives that they had also been conned by the same suspects.

Those who surrendered to police said they were conned Sh5.5 million. Head of Flying Squad Musa Yego appealed to anyone else who had fallen victim to the gang to file a report in their Nairobi offices.

Those in custody include Erick Adede, who is the owner of the safe deposit box, Ahmed Shah, Elizabeth Muthoni and Irene Wairimu Kimani.

Face charges

Two bank officials, Boaz Ochich and Charles Manzi, were also arrested. The suspects are expected in court today to face various charges.

Yesterday, Adede and one of the bank officials were taken to the bank to help in the investigations.

Police also questioned and recorded a statement from a witness, a manager in a top company, who would have been swindled out of Sh10 million Tuesday.

The witness had reportedly bought into a story by the fraudsters that they were international investors after being shown the money in the vault, which they passed off as capital for their business venture.

Police said they were tipped off that the manager was preparing to transfer Sh10 million to the suspects’ account to buy shareholding into a company they were to set up.

The offices stormed the bank and arrested the suspects before they were led to the vault where they stumbled on the fake money in a black box.

Kinoti said they had learnt that the people behind the syndicate had deposited the money inside the vault on November 25, 2017.

This could mean that the group has conned a large number of unsuspecting Kenyans and foreigners.

According to preliminary investigations, the suspects are part of a larger international syndicate who lure unsuspecting people into the banks and con them using the fake money.

They would tell their targets that they wanted to invest in Turkana, among other places, "where the petroleum business is the talk of town".

This latest discovery comes weeks after investigators found Sh32.6 billion in fake foreign currency, and gold, in a house in Ruiru, Kiambu.

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safe deposit boxErick AdedeBarclays Bank