Kenyan arrested with $2m cash after landing at JKIA from Burundi

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The  Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA). FILE PHOTO | NMG

What you need to know:

  • Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) custom officials arrest a Kenyan travelling from Burundi with $2 million in foreign currency at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA). 
  • He is held on suspicion of being part of a money-laundering scheme.

A Kenyan man travelling from Burundi has been arrested at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi with $2 million in foreign currency.

Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) custom officials intercepted the traveller on Thursday and seized his parcel. He was arrested on suspicion of being part of a money-laundering scheme after failing to declare the cash as required by law. 

“The money has been held and the matter is under investigation,’’ KRA commissioner for Custom and Border Control Lilian Nyawanda said in a statement.

KRA says when the passenger arrived at JKIA from Bujumbura, Burundi, he made a declaration of the currency indicating the origin as Banque de Credit de Bujumbura (BCB) to a recipient Brinks Global Services, Kenya.

After clearance by Customs Unit at the airport, the traveller later, presented the same money at the Swissport Cargo shed with different export documents for shipment to Global Services, UK.

The documents produced to support the export request were different from those produced on entry into the country.

 “After noting the inconsistencies in information provided by the passenger, KRA has invited Asset Recovery Agency (ARA) to assist in investigating the matter as a possible money-laundering attempt,” said Ms Nyawanda.

The arrest comes barely days after KRA arrested a foreigner at Kenya's main airport with undeclared cash.

The foreigner, a Bahraini national identified as Khalid Jameel Saeed, was intercepted at JKIA with $975,000.

He was on transit to Bahrain through Egyptian Airlines. Last year, Posta staff working jointly with KRA customs officers based at City Square Post Office recovered $28,000 concealed in a jacket shipped into Kenya as a parcel from South Carolina State, US.

In another case last year, a Nigerian national was arrested at the JKIA on his way to Dubai with undeclared foreign currencies. Mr Mauzu Bala was arrested with the money-- in 880,000 US dollars, 60,000 euros and 63,000 Nigerian naira -- stacked in his handbag.

Section 12 (1) of the Proceeds of Crime and Anti-Money Laundering Act requires a person to declare any amount above $10,000 (approximately over Ksh1 million).

The law requires individuals travelling or sending parcels with a huge amount of money to declare and produce documents supporting the legitimacy of the cash in the fight against money laundering.

The United States government in the past has put Kenya on the list of global hotspots for money laundering, citing insufficient controls on the circulation of dirty cash and the lack of laws against terrorism financing.

A report published in 2019 by the United States Department of State Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs said money laundering in Kenya occurs in the formal and informal sectors, fuelled by domestic and foreign criminal operations.