Former journalist Salim Swaleh arrested in connection with extortion racket

Director of Office of Prime Cabinet Secretary (OPCS) Press Service Salim Swaleh. [Courtesy, X]

Director of Office of Prime Cabinet Secretary (OPCS) Press Service Salim Swaleh is among individuals seized in a probe on an extortion ring targeting foreigners allegedly seeking favours from high ranking government officials.

Swaleh and his accomplices were arrested on Saturday by detectives who took the suspects to Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) headquarters for grilling. By the time of going to press it was not clear whether they were still in custody.

The extortion racket is planned and executed at the Kenya Railways buildings, the offices of Prime Cabinet Secretary and Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi.

According to a statement from Mudavadi’s office, arrests followed a tip-off that alerted a security team that mounted intense surveillance to disrupt the reported nefarious acts of impersonation and misuse of the facility by the fraudsters.

The surveillance involved tracking a group masquerading as visitors who would individually gain entrance into the Railways Building on different dates and times by falsifying their identities as VIP guests or government officers, and the officers they purported to be visiting.

“Their victims were mainly foreigners who would be shepherded into the Railways Building ostensibly to meet high ranking government officers for favours in exchange of bribes,” disclosed Mudavadi.

The surveillance linked Swaleh to the extortion ring after some the swindlers were found in his office nested with fake door switch-name tags.

Preliminary investigations established that the arrested government officers had perfected “renting” office space to criminals by either vacating their offices for the fraudsters use, or deceptively misrepresenting themselves.

Those involved in the racket would also switch legitimate name tags with fake ones on office doors to advance the scams.

“Upon being smoked out in one of the OPCS-MFDA Railway offices where the confidence tricksters had settled in wait for their victims on Saturday, the group had the audacity of attempting to bribe their way out,” said Mudavadi in the statement.

Following the arrests, the Prime Cabinet Secretary directed government institutions to vet and oust disreputable government officers abetting such criminal activity which appears pervasive due to lax securing of government offices and a growing appetite for quick money by public officers.

“The Government of Kenya has often reiterated its commitment to zero tolerance to corruption, especially so among its officers and that whenever such treacherous acts are identified, action should be swift, thorough and final,” he said.

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