Port, tax officials probed over ivory smuggling to Vietnam (Kenya)


Calvin Osarigo, The Star

Date Published

Senior Kenya Ports Authority and Kenya Revenue Authority officers are being investigated over ivory smuggling to Vietnam.

The latest known seizure of an ivory consignment was smuggled from the Port of Mombasa to Vietnam, en route to Cambodia Documents obtained by the Star indicate senior customs officials colluded with clearing agents to clear two containers labeled as a timber consignment.

It was hidden in hollowed-out logs and blocks of timber that were sealed.

The containers, with one tonne of ivory, were intercepted by Vietnamese authorities at the Cat Lai Port in the southern commercial hub of Ho Chi Minh City, the county’s capital.

According to authorities, the ivory was destined for Cambodia through Vietnam.

KRA Southern Region senior assistant commissioner Fatma Yusuf yesterday said they are aware of the seizure and are investigating.

“We cannot divulge more information, as it might interfere with the ongoing investigation,” she said.

Reports indicate investigators, including Interpol detectives, have obtained information about KPA officials complicit in the clearance.

Head of Interpol Julius Martin said they will assist the government, when contacted, in tracing individuals behind the international syndicate.

Last week, Interpol issued an international arrest warrant for two main suspects behind Sh570 million ivory seized in Singapore in April last year.

The red alert was issued for brothers Samuel Jefwa and Nicholas Jefwa, who allegedly colluded with custom officials to smuggle the ivory hidden within tea in 40-foot containers.

Sources say several custom officials are lined up for questioning this week, as pressure mounts on detectives from the recently established multi-agency unit at the Mombasa port to give a report on the syndicate.

President Uhuru Kenyatta expressed concern about cargo theft and trafficking of drugs, wildlife and other contraband. He directed IG Joseph Boinnet to immediately set up an independent unit to curb tax evasion and smuggling. The unit is comprised of agency the National Intelligence Service, Directorate of Criminal Investigations, the Cyber Crime Unit and Interpol officers. Uhuru accused unscrupulous businessmen of colluding with police, KRA and KPA officials.