Investigation: Big shots linked to Akasha duo

Ali Punjani, Vijayghiri “Vicky” Goswami and Baktash Akasha. [File, Standard]
Wanted tycoon Ali Badruddin Punjani will return to Kenya next Monday, according to his lawyer amid fresh allegations linking a Principal Secretary, an MP and a Kenyan diplomat to Indian drug felon Vijayghiri “Vicky” Goswami and the Akasha brothers.

The High Commissioner and the MP allegedly held a secret meeting with a drug trafficking suspect in Mombasa on January 1, 2017.

The suspect allegedly would later bribe a top Government official with millions of shillings to evade prosecution.

The PS, according to claims, tried to broker a truce between the Akasha brothers and the said drug lord, and following the alleged bribe the drug suspect was never charged.

SEE ALSO :Matiang’i warns Coast leaders on drugs links

Yesterday, the police in Mombasa suggested that Punjani will be arrested on arrival and denounced reports that detectives stole money and laptop computers during last week’s search on his property in Mombasa last week.

“My client will most likely come back to Kenya on August 26 from India because there is nothing which stops him from coming as he has not done anything wrong. It is a fact that nothing was found in his house in spite of the police searching the house without a search warrant which took more than 24 hours,” said lawyer Jeff Asige yesterday.

The allegations from Kenyan and foreign detectives are that the alleged PS received money from Goswami, the Akasha and another narcotics suspect early January 2017 for protection and in order to stall a police investigation into the December 31, 2016, gun violence involving Punjani Baktash Akasha, Ibrahim Akasha and Goswami.

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And we have also established that despite his criminal record, Goswami used a forged passport to open and operate a US dollar account at a bank in Mombasa where Baktash also operated an account. The two fat accounts remain active to date, according to fresh information, but it is unclear whether the bank has alerted the State.

Goswami, who entered Kenya on a forged Indian passport on November 22, 2012, after serving a 17-year drugs conviction in the United Arab Emirates, was a co-defendant in the 2014-2017 extradition procedures to the USA in Mombasa courts. He was later charged in New York with drug trafficking alongside Baktash Akasha, Ibrahim Akasha and Pakistani Gulam Hussein.

SEE ALSO :MCA Ahmed Salama to be charged with drug trafficking

In a plea-bargain with the prosecution, Goswami implicated the Akashas and Punjani in rival drug trafficking networks in Kenya and alleged that the Akashas had orchestrated a murder and bribery campaign of judicial and State leaders to protect them and delay the extradition process.

Baktash has since pleaded guilty to drug trafficking and was sentenced to 25 years in jail.

Meanwhile, the police raided Punjani’s home in Nyali on Monday and Tuesday claiming to be searching for drug evidence. His lawyer and relatives said he was in India on treatment.

“I am very concerned about this behaviour of the police and I feel what they did was wrong and that is why I am waiting for instructions from my client for the next cause of action because what they did is stealing my client’s property while away,” Asige added.

But yesterday, Mombasa Police Commander Johnston Ipara accused Asige of misleading the public on the search and also indicated that Punjani will be arrested or interrogated on arrival.

SEE ALSO :Police have 24 hours to charge or release Punjani's wife

He also denounced claims the police unlawfully raided Punjani’s house to steal.

Meanwhile, following interviews with several detectives involved in the widening anti-narcotics, The Standard yesterday established that some of the allegations regarding the Akashas’ high connection were true.

Detectives investigating Goswami’s bribery claims have established he also bribed several Kenyan officials for protection and to stall a criminal charge after he was caught in a brutal gun fight involving the Akasha brothers and Punjani at two clubs in Mombasa on December 31, 2016.

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