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Charged: 8 Suspects in Fuliza loan fraud used Uhuru’s family bank

Eight individuals have been charged with cybercrime and accused of stealing over Sh449 million from a bank in Kenya associated with retired President Uhuru Kenyatta’s family.

The alleged fraud was carried out through the “Fuliza Loan” scheme, which has affected over 123,000 mobile phone subscribers.

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The suspects, identified as Peter Githinji Wambui, Isaac Kipkemboi, Moses Rono, Collins Kipyegon, Maxwell Njamba Ributhu, Edwin Kipkorir Cheruiyot, Gedion Kipkirui Rono, and Gedion Kipkoech Kirui, were arrested in Kitale township and Nakuru City after an undercover raid by crime busters from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations.

Two other suspects, Brenda Chepng’eno and Linda Cherono, were released, while the remaining eight were arraigned before Milimani chief magistrate Susan Shitubi, who ordered that they be remanded in custody until February 15, 2023, when she will rule on their bail.

The suspects had earlier been detained in police custody for questioning over the multi-million mobile phone loan syndicate.

Still, they were released on a bond of Sh200,000 with two conduct persons by senior principal magistrate Robinson Kebabe Ondiek after declining to detain them for seven days for in-depth probing over the multi-million.

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Soon after Mr Ondieki declined the plea by Corporal Knockert Nyasinga of the Banking Fraud Investigations Unit (BFIU) to remand the suspects in custody for further police processing, they were brought before Ms Shitubi, who charged them with 12 counts of fraud, theft, handling stolen property, possession of proceeds of crime, and cybercrime offenses.

The suspects were indicted on diverse dates between January 1 and July 4, 2022, jointly with others not before the court, of stealing Sh449,647,200, the property of NCBA Bank.

The accused faced a common conspiracy charge to defraud and engaged in organized criminal activities where serious offenses were committed. Additionally, Peter Gitahi Wambui was found with 14 devices for registering sim cards namely-MobiGo- bearing International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) and Safaricom Kenya PLC Subscriber Identity (SIM) Card Integrated Circuit Card Identity (ICCID).

While Isaac Kipkemoi had a total of 1,023 modules (sim) cards, with 760 for Airtel and 263 for Safaricom Kenya PLC Sim cards.

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Moses Rono, Collins Kipyegon, and Maxwell Njamba Ributhu were found with 2,014 Safaricom sim cards, Edwin Kipkorir Cheruiyot had 281 Safaricom sim cards, and Gedion Kipkirui Rono was found with 23 Safaricom sim cards.

Additionally, Isaac Kipkemoi was charged with having proceeds of crime, a motor vehicle, and a motorcycle.

The prosecution opposed the release of the suspects on bail, arguing that they could interfere with the ongoing investigations.

The court heard that thousands of Kenyans had fallen victim to the well-organized criminal scheme that defrauded unsuspecting individuals’ colossal sums of money from NCBA Bank under the guise of Fuliza Loans. The suspects, however, insisted that their constitutional rights be upheld, and they be freed on bail.

In her ruling, Ms Shitubi extended the remand of the suspects until February 15, 2023, when she will hand down a well-reasoned decision on their bail plea.

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