Kenya has finally handed over to Tanzania 35.4kg of gold worth Sh100 million that had been stolen from Mwanza but recovered in Nairobi in February last year.
A team, led by Foreign Affairs Cabinet secretary Monica Juma and included Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji, Attorney General Paul Kihara, Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti and the director of Asset Recovery Agency handed over the gold to Tanzanian President John Magufuli on Wednesday.
Kenyan officials also handed over Sh15 million that was recovered from a suspect who was arrested with the gold at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).
According to the DCI, the gold and the money were stolen on May 21, 2004 from Tanzania’s NBC bank in Moshi. The cash was in denominations of US dollars (77,500), Kenyan shillings (171.6 million) and Tanzanian shillings (170 million).
The Kenyan authorities later arrested the prime suspect, Patrick Ayisi, who was later repatriated to Tanzanian for prosecution in January this year.
Juma said the deal was struck after Presidents Uhuru Kenyatta and Magufuli met in Chato, Tanzania early this month.
“We are here to fulfil deliberations between you and President Uhuru. If we work together, we succeed, and get a chance to expand our economy, peace and living a better life,” she said during the handing over.
The consignment was received at the Tanzanian State House where Magufuli was accompanied by his Minister for Foreign Affairs and East African Community Prof John Mwaluko and Tanzania’s DPP Bswalo Mganga.
Magufuli hailed the Kenyan authorities, saying he would write an official letter to thank them and at the same time reward the officers who were involved. He, however, faulted the Tanzanian security apparatus for neglecting duty and allowing the stolen goods to be transported out of the country.
“The goods were transported from Mwanza. There are many questions to ask, when the goods were being transported, where were Tanzanian security officers?” he posed.
During the handing over, Magufuli called Uhuru while addressing the delegation to thank him for helping return the gold and confirmed that it was the actual consignment.
He said the Tanzanian authorities would repatriate any Kenyan who escaped to Tanzania after committing crimes.
“I want to remind Tanzanians that you can’t commit a crime in Kenya and come to hide in Tanzania or vice versa. You will be arrested,” he warned.
Magufuli directed security and defence organs to investigate if there were officials who conspired with the culprit to smuggle gold.
According to records from Customs department at JKIA, the principal suspect linked to the transportation of gold had arrived at the airport on February 16, 2018 at about 3pm aboard Precision Airlines from Mwanza via Kilimanjaro. He was to head to Dubai on a Kenya Airways flight. The gold bars had an accompanying invoice of USD859,890 (about Sh86 million).
Previously, Kenya has been cited as a key transit point for trans-national organised crime such as human trafficking, poaching, drug trafficking and money laundering.
Gold smuggling syndicate operating cross-border using Kenya as a transit point of the illegal activities with local cartels facilitating the illicit business linked to money laundering activities.