US authorities have told a Kenyan court Sh2 billion seized at Barclays Bank in 100 US dollar notes was fake.
The Standard can exclusively reveal that United States Secret Service examined 13,194 specimen notes sent to them and worth 1.3 million dollars (Sh131 million) by Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and concluded that they are counterfeit.
Court papers filed before Judge John Mativo, say Gilbert Gunn, an investigative agent with the US law enforcement agency, examined the notes on April 2, and concluded that the money lacked security features for US dollars.
The money was clustered into 43 categories ranging from 1996-2004 styles.
“My examination of the above 13,194 specimens determined that they are counterfeit because they do not contain authentic features that are found on the US 100 Federal Reserve Notes (1996 and 2004 style),” said Gunn in his reply dated April 9.
In March, DCI officers seized the notes stored in a safe at Barclay’s Queensway Branch in Nairobi. Businessman Erick Adede, who has been charged in court, insisted his cash was genuine.
Mr Gunn looked for nine features contained in a genuine US dolar note.
His first feature in the check list was red and blue fibres in the currency. He then looked at the Intaglio (raised) printing, typographic printing, security thread, water mark, color shifting ink then micro printing.
He also checked two special features only in the 2004 style dollar - 3D security ribbon and a colour shifting bell in the inkwell.
“These security features mentioned above from one through nine are applicable to a genuine 2004 style USD 100 note. The security features mentioned above from through one to seven are applicable to a genuine 1996 style USD 100 notes,” he said.
In an urgent suit filed at the High Court, Adede wants the court to force the State to release his money, arguing it is genuine. He accused the State’s investigative and prosecuting agencies of switching his dollar bills with fake notes to paint him a money launderer.
“It is true I am the owner of the box held at Barclays Bank, which contained a total of $20,067,900 in 100-dollar denomination, among other items. The DCI knows that the money is not fake and is illegally withholding it without any authority,” swore Adede.
His lawyer Martin Oloo told the court the DCI and the DPP cooked up the story that Adede had fake currency “to boost their public image”.
Mr Oloo claimed the money did not form part of the criminal charges laid out against Adede.
“The prosecutors, in their submissions in court, stated that the money held does not form part of the prosecution. The petitioner fears that they might tamper with his clean money and substitute it with fake ones to deprive him of his hard-earned property,” said Oloo.
The DCI also conducted its own examination on the dollars. On April 15, Iranda Masiko, a forensic specialist, examined 13,194 specimen dollars and concluded that they were fake.
Adede was last month charged alongside Ahmed Shah, Irene Wairimu Kimani and Elizabeth Muthoni with several counts in connection with the suspected forged dollar bills and fake gold recovered inside the bank’s Queensway branch in Nairobi.
Adede faced two additional counts of possessing the fake dollars and being found with 41.373 kilos of brass in contravention of the Mining Act.