Ex-US convict narrates how he helped Kamani brothers open an account in Switzerland

State Prosecutor Victor Mule cross-examines a US citizen who is a former Swiss banker with UBS Brandley Birkenfield via video link during the hearing of an Anglo-Leasing case at Milimani Law Courts on Tuesday, February 27. [ George Njunge / Standard]

A former Swiss banker yesterday told court that he helped two Anglo-Leasing scandal suspects to open a multi-billion shilling account in Switzerland.

Bradley Burkenfield, who testified through a video link from Malta, told Senior Principal Magistrate Martha Mutuku that he was a director at Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS) between 2001 and 2006 when he helped Deepak Kamani and Rashmi Kamani open the account.

Substantial amount

“I met the brothers through a friend who told me they wanted to open an account after which they wired US$60 million (Sh6 billion). I was just a facilitator, I could not tell where the substantial amount was coming from,” said Burkenfiled.

The Kamani brothers are among five suspects facing charges of conspiracy to defraud the government through the multi-billion shillings Anglo-Leasing scandal.

Others are former Permanent Secretaries Dave Mwangi and Joseph Magari, and former head of debt management, David Onyonka.

Mr Burkenfield was initially one of the suspects in the case but was substituted by the prosecution to be a witness after he disowned a signature that appeared in the contract between the government and Infotalent Limited for provision of modernised security materials.

He testified that he was the UBS bank director in charge of acquiring new clients and met the Kamani brothers several times in London, Switzerland and in Nairobi.

According to the witness, he did not partner with the brothers in executing the Anglo Leasing contracts. He told the court that his signatures, name and address were forged in the contract documents between Infotalent Limited and the government.

“I had no involvement whatsoever in the contract, I had no idea who prepared the contract and how they forged my name and signature. My address was illegally put in the contract to show that I was a director of Infotalent Limited when I had never dealt with the company,” said Burkenfield.

When asked if he knew the source of the Kamani brother’s huge deposit in the Swiss bank, he said he said he could not tell where the money came from.

He told the court that he was once a convict in the US, having been found guilty and sentenced to three years in jail for helping US citizens evade tax by setting up companies and private accounts in Switzerland.

“But that did not stop me from helping other governments recover their money kept in offshore accounts,” he testified.

He, however, denied that he is a prohibited immigrant in Switzerland for breaching customer confidentiality.