Many foreigners have jetted in and taken gullible Kenyans for a laughable ride. Ugandan Grace Aluma, a pretender billionaire, even tried selling some loaded Nairobians the International Life House, which she didn’t own. American Dick Berg came here to ‘market’ the 4th All Africa Games in 1987, only to disappear with over Sh200 million before the games started.
Debra Amelia George-Kasumbura, a student, purportedly pocketed Sh15 billion to invest here in 2002, but the ‘Queen of Sheba’ from the Nubian Dynasty later left the Grand Regency Hotel (now Laico Regency) with an unpaid bill of over Sh3 million, before a spirited deportation to Diego Martin Island in Trinidad & Tobago. No one knows where The Nubian Dynasty is.
But foreigners who take the biscuit for sheer daredevilry are Armenian brothers, Artur Magaryan and Artur Sargasyan, who landed in town in 2006 with lots of fanfare.
Their pompous display of bravado made TV news interesting. Their sense of entitlement, bling-bling, audacity to openly brandish pistols, flashy lifestyle and even flashier parties in their Runda home, where they kept vicious Dobermans, was made for the big screen.
These mamluki (mercenaries), as Raila called them even before they landed, were made Deputy Commissioners of Police, issued with Kenyan passports, work permits and VIP security passes to restricted areas of the JKIA.
The Armenians incorporated two companies as ‘Kenyan nationals.’ The bearded and more macho Magaryan even dared Police Commissioner, Major General Hussein Ali, to arrest them. Which foreigner dares the Commish?
A cache of arms, balaclava, body armour and government-issued number plates were later found in their home after the (in)famous raid on The Standard Group for which the Artur brothers played lead roles, according to a Parliamentary probe report.
A stage-managed deportation to Dubai was preceded by a gun drama at the airport where they refused to have their luggage checked as they assaulted immigration officials.
Head of CID, Joseph Kamau, and five officers (including the President’s daughter Winnie Wangui... who was a director in one of the companies registered by the Artur brothers) were forced to make peace with inflation as retired President Kibaki formed the Kiruki Commission of Inquiry into the scandal.
But expectedly, the findings of the alleged global con artists, guns for hire who reportedly dealt in hard drugs and enjoyed police assistance and political connections, were never made public.