Alarm over fake currency seizures

A section view of fake Sh32.6 billion that was impounded by police at a house in Ruiru. The currency is associated with  seven men charged with defrauding Sameer boss on 27/2/19-[Beverlyne Musili,Standard]

Officials have raised concerns over increased cases of seizure of fake notes, with fears that Nairobi could be turning into a base for transnational counterfeit currencies.

The latest seizure happened yesterday at dawn in Kilimani, Nairobi, where nine suspects, including seven foreigners, were arrested and fake Sh190 million ($1.9 million) recovered.

The suspects – three Kenyans, four Congolese, a Rwandan and a Ugandan – were found in a house along Elgeyo Marakwet Road.

Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti said the suspects were part of a network that handles fake currencies.

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“They are damaging our economy with these fake papers,” he said.

This came two days after another group of seven was nabbed with fake Sh300 million in a house in the same area.

The police said the suspects will appear in court today.

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The incidents come in the wake of a series of other fake currencies that have been recovered in the past few months, raising concerns on the trend.

Police investigations show counterfeit bank notes remain the top form of fraud for the growing mobile money and bank agents.

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“Those behind the trend are a cartel that work in cahoots to ensure the money is absorbed by agents and banks before they are detected by Central Bank of Kenya (CBK),” said an officer.

Survey findings

In its annual report for the period ending June 2017, CBK acknowledged the possibility of a transnational fake currency ring in Nairobi and the region.

CBK and other East African Community central banks held a joint meeting with the Eastern Africa Police Chiefs Cooperation Organisation in September 2016 to develop strategies for enhancing the fight against counterfeit crime, one of the emerging transnational crimes.

The bank regulator had conducted a survey in 2017 that showed 97 per cent of fraud faced by the agents involved fake notes.

The February 27 discovery of fake foreign cash amounting to Sh32 billion in a residential house in Ruiru town was the latest and biggest incident.

In June 2018, the High Court in Nairobi condemned Niger and Cameroon nationals to 10 years in jail for possessing an estimated Sh110 billion in counterfeit currency.

The two were also in possession of tools for making fake bank notes.

The trial took two-and-a-half years following the foreigners’ arrest in Nairobi’s Diamond Park II in 2016.

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Director of Criminal InvestigationsGeorge KinotiNairobiFake currency