‘King Con’ Somaia told to pay Sh5.6bn or get more jail time

Under the Confiscation Order, Somaia will pay Sh2.9 billion to the public purse, Sh2.6 billion to Mr Mirchandani and an additional Sh29 million to Mr Shah.

Wednesday January 13 2016

Businessman Ketan Somaia was jailed for eight years by a British court has now been fined Sh5.6 billion by a UK court or be jailed for an additional 16 years. PHOTO | FILE

Businessman Ketan Somaia was jailed for eight years by a British court has now been fined Sh5.6 billion by a UK court or be jailed for an additional 16 years. PHOTO | FILE NATION MEDIA GROUP

By PETER LEFTIE
More by this Author

Moi-era big-time looter and businessman Ketan Somaia has been fined Sh5.6 billion by a UK court or be jailed for an additional 16 years.

Somaia, who is already serving an eight-year sentence at the Belmarsh Prison for fraud, has six months to pay the two businessmen he defrauded of billions of shillings, Mr Murli Mirchandani and Mr Dilip Shah, the court ruled.

Under the Confiscation Order, Somaia will pay Sh2.9 billion to the public purse, Sh2.6 billion to Mr Mirchandani and an additional Sh29 million to Mr Shah.

'KING CON'

During the hearing of the case, in which Mr Mirchandani had sued Somaia for defrauding him, the court was told how the latter, described as “King Con” deceived the former into making multiple wire transfers totalling Sh1.7 billion to his accounts.

Mr Mirchandani initially reported the fraud to the police, but they never pursued the matter.

He later started a decade-long battle for justice, culminating in the largest private prosecution to be heard in the English courts resulting in the ruling in June last year in which he was found guilty of nine counts of obtaining money through deception.

The fraudster, who owned the Dolphin Group of Companies with interests in Kenya, South Africa, Mauritius, Dubai and the UK and enjoyed the patronage of Kanu-era politicians, was eventually sentenced to eight years in prison for his crimes. 

“You breached their trust in you in a careless, amoral and flagrant manner,” the judge told Somaia during the sentencing.

Somaia had throughout the trial and confiscation proceedings claimed he did not have any assets although evidence adduced in court had shown he owned two properties registered in the names of third parties.

The properties were worth over one million pounds (Sh149 million going by current exchange rates).

It was also revealed that Somaia spent close to Sh15 million to throw a lavish wedding for his daughter, besides leading what the court described as a celebrity lifestyle eating at exclusive restaurants and staying at luxury five-star hotels.

The court heard that Somaia had been residing in the UK since 2009, but had owned property and conducted business there for over a decade before then.

It was also disclosed that despite receiving a Sh506 million settlement and alleged earnings of hundreds of thousands of pounds, Somaia had not paid a penny in taxes in the UK.

Commenting on the Confiscation Order, Mr Mirchandani said: “This is a bittersweet victory, my fight for justice has robbed me of 15 years of my life.

"There are no words to describe the betrayal that my family and I have suffered at the hands of a callous man who claimed to be my friend.”

Somaia was a well-connected businessman in the Kanu era, with vast interests in the hotel industry in Kenya and other parts of the world.

Among the properties he owned was the Block Hotels and casinos in Nairobi and Mombasa.

advertisement