By BRIAN OCHARO
Kenya has re-shipped to the United Kingdom four high-end vehicles believed to have been stolen and brought into the country in April.
The black Range Rover Vogue Autobiography, white Mercedes Benz GLE and two black Range Rover Sports Autobiography were on Friday loaded onto a truck and transported to a vessel ready for shipment to the UK.
The vehicles estimated to be worth more than Sh40 million were stolen from Berkshire, London and Oxfordshire between November 11, 2018 and February 7.
A security team drawn from the DCI, the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) and the UK’s National Crime Agency led the crackdown that led to seizure of the cars.
The team worked with the British High Commission in Kenya.
British High Commissioner to Kenya, Jane Marriott, said the UK was actively involved in monitoring, coordinating and liaising with the KRA to support re-shipment of the vehicles.
Mr Waqar Qureshi, who represented the commission, said the owners of the stolen vehicles filed reports in the UK.
“I am extremely grateful to out Kenyan partners whose continued efforts are acting as a deterrent to organised crime networks both in East Africa and the UK,” he said.
“We will continue to work closely with our Kenyan partners to combat serious organised crime which impacts on both the Kenyan and the British public.”
Employees of the Kenya Revenue Authority and the Kenya Ports Authority Workers oversee re-shipping of four high-end vehicles stolen from the United Kingdom at the Port of Mombasa on November 1, 2019. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NATION MEDIA GROUP
The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and the Kenya Ports Authority KPA) attributed the interception to information and intelligence shared by Kenyan agencies and their international law enforcement partners.
The government agencies said that between March and September, up to 21 high-end vehicles, valued at more than Sh130 million, that were stolen from the UK were intercepted at the port of Mombasa.
“The vehicles had been shipped at ports in the UK and Belgium,” the agencies said in a statement read by Dr Terra Saidimu, KRA’s acting Commissioner of Intelligence and Strategic Operations.
“According to the manifest, all the 21 vehicles were intended for transit through Kenya and arrival at other destinations in East Africa.”
In June, two high-end vehicles that had been stolen and shipped into the country were returned to the UK.
The agencies termed the seizures and the reshipment of the vehicles a success against illicit trade.
They said the government has sent a strong message to criminal networks in East Africa and beyond that the port of Mombasa will not be used as a conduit for illicit trade.
The seizures, the agencies also noted, are the fruits of the campaign launched in 2018 to fight illicit trade and disrupt an international criminal syndicate that smuggles through the Mombasa port and sells the cars across East Africa.
“[The operation] included heightening surveillance and enforcement measures at all ports of entry and exit. Since then, various government agencies have participated in joint operations to seize illicit goods including counterfeits, sub-standard and smuggled goods,” read the statement.
“We are going beyond the quest for revenue and heeding President Uhuru Kenyatta’s call to root out illicit trade and safeguard a level playing field for legitimate businesses. We cannot afford to provide safe passage for stolen vehicles into the East African market.”
The agencies added that Kenyan and British authorities will work together to ensure stolen vehicles illegally smuggled into the country are returned to their countries of origin.
Waqar Qureshi, the First Secretary for the British High Commission, KPA’s Managing Director Daniel Manduku, KRA’s Southern Region Coordinator Nicholas Kinoti and KRA’s acting Commissioner for Intelligence and Strategic Operations Terra Saidimu oversee re-shipping of stolen vehicles to the UK on November 2019. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NATION MEDIA GROUP
KPA’s Managing Director Daniel Manduku reiterated that the port will not be used as a channel for smuggling.
Dr Saidimu added that rooting out the illicit business will pave the way for the motor vehicle industry to thrive since the government is revamping the sector to promote Kenya as a vehicle-manufacturing hub in the region.
“KRA, DCI and KPA will continue to work together and collaborate with international partners in detecting, disrupting and deterring all forms of illicit trade at the port,” he said.
KRA Deputy Commissioner for the Southern Region, Nicholas Kinoti, said no suspect had been arrested in connection to the seizure but that the investigation was ongoing.
Credit Daily Nation