19 March 2017

Kenya: Police Link Chinese Firm to Hacking Racket

A Chinese company with links to Kenyan wheeler-dealers is behind various criminal activities that include hacking of Kenya Revenue Authority, the Immigration database and issuance of illegal work permits, a police brief has revealed.

The brief names China National Aero Technology International Engineering Company (Catic) officials and a Kenyan tenderpreneur as being behind the processing of illegal work permits and a network "advising Chinese companies on how to avoid taxes and other statutory deductions due to the government".

The company was found in possession of KRA database that includes staff nominal roll, details of customs computers, their IP addresses, edited motor vehicle details and login credentials.

"Possession of KRA database by Catic could have been an act of espionage aimed at evasion of tax obligations," say the police.

READ: Police net three more in hacking racket

Catic has been involved in major contracts in Kenya, which include the cancelled Greenfields Project at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Two Rivers Investment, UAP Insurance Headquarters and Kenya National Highway Authority (Kenha) projects.

When police raided Catic offices -- house numbers C4 and C5 -- at Ngong Road's Maki Apartments, owned by the family of the late Justice Kitili Mwendwa, they carted away 33 computers and two laptops, which have revealed details of the "dubious transactions by Catic, all aimed at circumventing the law".

FLED THE COUNTRY

The brief says that a KRA audit has found that in 2014, Catic paid a British Virgin Island registered company, Iconic Structures Sh290 million. The company is owned by a political power-broker whose name we have.

When Catic Director Huang Hongyou was summoned by the KRA last year, he fled the country on May 5, 2016 but returned on June 17, 2016 and was arrested.

The police report reveals a level of frustration within the Judiciary, the police structure and interference by powerful forces.

"Throughout the process of arrest and search, there was evident interference by a Nairobi senior police officer, who appeared to give Huang preferential treatment while in custody," says the brief.

"The OCPD is said to be benefiting from Chinese residents in Kenya to construct a hotel at Baharini area within Eldoret by being facilitated with building materials, money and furniture."

Mr Huang was again arrested on March 6, 2017 at JKIA as he returned to the country and was questioned on "discrepancies" in his work permit.

He was charged in court, pleaded guilty and was fined Sh50,000 or three months imprisonment, which the police say was lenient. "Some senior government officials were approached by Huang and his emissaries to interfere in this matter and some even received monetary inducements," the report says.

IMMIGRATION CHARGES

"It is highly likely that the same officials may try to interfere with the new immigration charges as well."

Mr Huang was also arrested for failing to appear in court on January 31 and for failing to appear before the KRA commissioner.

But it is the number of fake work permits in the hands of Chinese that seems to worry Immigration authorities. On February 16, two Chinese, Zhao Mei and Song Jingli, were deported after they were found in possession of fake work permits.

"The two were in a group of nine Chinese individuals who had been assisted by Solomon Jolomait to obtain work permits at a cost of Sh2.7 million, which endorsements turned out to be forged," say the police.

Mr Jolomait had been charged in court with obtaining money by false pretences, but the prosecution withdrew the case after the seven Chinese declined to testify against him and were deported.

"This withdrawal is believed to have been orchestrated by Catic," says the police. "This ongoing immigration operation has faced interference from some senior government officials, including from within the Immigration department, and their relatives."

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