Fresh details have emerged showing that the W. E. Tilley, the fishing family business at the centre of Imperial Bank Sh38 billion grand heist, may have been the Kenyan spoke in a complex international drug and money laundering wheel.
A confidential report we have seen and our own investigations into the business dealing of the fishing family, show that W. E Tilley is not your ordinary fish processing and exporting business.
Movement of money to and from its 73 accounts at Imperial Bank shows a money trail that either started or terminated in countries that fall in the global map of international narcotic trade, tax evasion and money laundering.
A report by the London based forensic audit firm FTI submitted to Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) Governor Patrick Njoroge on February 9th, 2016 , W.E Tilley operated 73 accounts at Imperial Bank. 46 of the accounts were under the name of W.E Tilley (Muthaiga) Limited while the rest were registered in the names of the 8 subsidiaries. There were also two joint accounts; one registered in the names of Zulfikar Jessa and Zarina Mohammed and the other one in the names of Priti Rameshcadra Patel.
FTI also found that there were 30,524 transactions in the 73 accounts held by W.E Tilley and related parties in the bank between 2006 and 2015.
The accounts were a mix of local and foreign currency accounts.
The particular transactions that raised alarm on possible money laundering relate to payments and receipts made to a person going by the name Jiwa Sadrudin to and from W.E Tilley related accounts at Imperial Bank and Fidelity Bank.
Says FTI on transactions with the Jiwa guy;
“One of the counter parties, Jiwa Sadrudin appears to transfer monies to and fro W.E. Tilley dollar account. This type of activity is typical in respect to window dressing and could be possibly indicative of money laundering.”
In the paper trail of activities in the accounts, Jiwa is also seen delivering to Imperial Bank cheques of huge amounts of money signed by directors of W.E Tilley but whose payee is not indicated.
“As part of the investigations, FTI has been provided with copies of three chequers relating to W.E Tilley shilling account for a sum of Sh1,200,000 dated September 13, 20, 27, 2013 and a copy of the fourth cheque dated October 10, 2013 for Sh1,228,500. All four cheques are signed yet they are blank in terms of payee,” says FTI.
The same Jiwa is also seen receiving cheque payments from W.E. Tilley accounts held at Fidelity Bank.
The forensic firm say they noticed movement of money from external parties to W.E. Tilley and subsidiaries accounts to give the impression that the companies were in active trading business.
“(This)could indicate circular money flows and may be an attempt to give the impression of active trading,” says FTI.
But there is something more alarming. All payments that W.E Tilley accounts received besides, the loans and overdrafts were, from countries that US’ State Department has listed as epicentres of organised crime including tax evasion, human trafficking, narcotics trade and money laundering.
Among the monies that W.E Tilley accounts at Imperial Bank received were from two related fish processing companies in Moldova and Romania.
Moldova is a curious country. The small Eastern European country has the reputation as the money launders paradise where the country’s politicians, judges, top police commanders and businessmen are all in the mix.
Former Prime Ministers, cabinet ministers and judges have been arrested for money laundering related crimes.
According to Moldovan charity, Organised Crime and Corruption Project (OCCRP), over Sh2 trillion has been laundered in the country which is ranked as the poorest in Europe.
In 2015, the same year that Imperial Bank was placed under receivership due to the fraud, the coffers of three commercial banks were emptied of Sh100 billion in a scheme that wiped out the country’s foreign reserves. IMF had bail out the government from total economic collapse.
In the case of W.E Tilley, the payments from Moldova were from Blue Shark Ltd SRL. Blue Shark Ltd SRL is owned by Moldovan billionaire Ilie Busuioc. W.E Tilley also received money from Ocean Fish Ltd SRL also owned by Busuioc, which operates in Romania.
Last year, when International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) blew the lid off companies registered in tax havens in the leaks now famously called Panama Papers, Blue Shark was on top list of companies registered in the British Virgin Islands with the assistance of Russian lawyers in Moscow.
Other Moldovan billionaires listed in Panama Papers and who have had contacts or interests in Kenya are Gabriel Stati whose family is considered the richest in the country.
Stati’s company, Casco Petroleum Overseas, which was listed in Panama Papers was registered in British Virgin Islands to carry out business activities in Kenya, Uganda, South Sudan and Congo.
Other countries US government’s radar in which money in W.E Tilley related accounts was either transferred to or received from are Cyprus, Hong Kong, Israel, Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany, and Kenya and Uganda.
In Kenya and Uganda, the money in W.E Tilley accounts was received from Chinese individuals who in a strange coincidence share the family name Lin.
Lin Huifeng transferred money to W.E Tilley related accounts at the bank while Lin Jianqian, Lin Yubo and Lin Yuwen transferred from Uganda.
This is not the first time that W.E Tilley has been mentioned in relations to money laundering.
In 2006, activities in its accounts at Charterhouse were suspected of being related to laundering proceeds from international crime resulting in a drama that led to the bank being placed under receivership.
Emerging to be Kenya’s best kept secret after Mobitelea is the narrative behind the real players behind W.E.Tilley.
In 2006 Peter Odhiambo, who was the Charterhouse Bank internal auditor and who had leaked the information on the money laundering scheme to CBK was forced to flee from Kenya with the help of US government following constant threats to his life. The then CBK governor Dr. Andrew Mullei, who attempted to burst the money laundering scheme after a leak from a whistleblower, was forced to resign on allegation of conflict of interest in awarding contracts at the banking regulator.
Curiously, the anti-narcotics police unit did not investigate the family or its business activities. W.E. Tilley was allowed to carry on, only to be exposed after the sudden death of IBL(IR) Managing Director, Mr. Abdulmalek Janmohammed.
Hoping to make their sins at Imperial Bank silently go away again, the director’s at W.E. Tilley passed aboard resolution to provide collateral for the irregular loans and overdrafts disbursements they received from IBL(IR).
But the Imperial Bank non executive directors took this evidence and walked straight to the CBK, with the hopes of saving the bank.
“In order to establish the complete W.E. Tilley’s accounts and business activities, it would be necessary to have access to, and analyse the accounts of W.E. Tilley at other banks. As noted in paragraph 9.24 above, FTI has identified transfers to and from accounts held in the name of W.E. Tilled at Diamond Trust Bank and Fidelity Bank,” the FTI forensic audit recommended
CBK, as the sole transaction advisors, later hurriedly presided over the sale of Fidelity Bank to State Bank of Mauritius while DTB enjoyed the free access to IBL(IR) data together with KCB during the first depositor’s pay-out scheme.
W.E. Tilley still hold accounts at DTB with facilities collateralized by assets that could have been purchased from the monies received for their laundering services at IBL(IR).
Imperial Bank depositors whose funds are locked up in the bank have questioned why the government finds it hard to bring W.E. Tilley to justice.
In particular, they have pointed out that a suit filed against the fishing business has been stalled at the courts.
“TO: Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions Kenya, Central Bank of Kenya (Official) Kenya Deposit Insurance Corporation Can you inform and explain to all IBL Depositors and to the public at large what is going on with the case of Imperial Bank Limited (Under The Statutory Receivership of The Receiver Manager) against W.E Tilley (Muthaiga) Limited. We need to know if this case is going on and that we will get justice for the tragedy caused to us by these people, let us know” said a post of the IBL Depositor Lobby Group on February 8th, 2017.