Police seek brothers over seized ivory
Police have launched a manhunt for two brothers suspected to have trafficked over Sh1 billion worth of ivory seized in Singapore and Thailand in the last three weeks.
Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) has also requested Singapore and Thailand authorities to provide more information “critical to the investigation” and eventual prosecution of the alleged ivory traffickers.
It also emerged that a company linked to the trafficking of the Sh570 million ivory to Singapore this week had allegedly shipped out five containers identified as holding tea in the last five months, including the one seized with ivory worth Sh500 million in Thailand three weeks ago.
A KRA investigation report, which gives a blow-by-blow account of how the ivory was shipped out of Kenya, shows that Almasi Chai Ltd was used by the suspects to export the tea.
The report says that two of the contentious containers (FCIU5085401 and TEMU3975227) were shipped out by Almasi on April 22.
“The shipping agent should be requested to return to Mombasa port two containers that are still in the high seas. Discussions with the shipping agent have been positive but no formal request has been made yet. The return of the containers could help secure exhibits that would be critical in prosecution of any resultant cases, if the presence of contrabands is confirmed,” says the report.
The two containers were part of the five suspect shipments allegedly exported by the company in the last five months.
Apart from the first two containers, two others were also labeled as holding tea destined for Singapore and Sri Lanka and left Mombasa port on February 28 and December 12 last year respectively.
However, the whereabouts of the fifth container shipped by Almasi on October 6 last year could not be ascertained.
The report gives a detailed account of how the containers with ivory were allegedly stuffed with tea and exported. According to the report, the shipping application was submitted to Rais Shipping Services on March 19.
The report says the container was “stuffed” with 220 50-kg bags of tea at the Signon warehouse in Shimanzi.
“Signon group has affirmed that the stuffing took place on March 21 at the company’s warehouse. Signon not only acted as the clearing agents for the exporter (Almasi), but they also provided warehousing service. This included collecting, blending and packing the tea ready for exportation,” says the report.
The document adds that Signon provided photographic evidence showing the whole process until the time when the trucks left their premises.
The empty container that was later packed with tea was delivered to the Signon warehouse by a truck now in police custody. It is is the same truck that collected an empty container at Hakika depot for delivery to Signon.
The brothers are now being sought for questioning, together with a KRA employee who witnessed the packing of the bags and loading of the tea into the containers and then onto the trucks.
This story first appeared in the Sunday Nation