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77 Chinese held in cyber bust

Wednesday December 3 2014

This picture taken on December 3, 2014 shows

This picture taken on December 3, 2014 shows one of the houses in Runda where Chinese nationals suspected of engaging in cybercrime were living. PHOTO | ANTHONY OMUYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

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A cyber-command centre capable of disrupting communication systems in the country has been found in a Nairobi estate.

Officers from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations on Wednesday carried out a swoop in the house in the posh Runda estate and arrested several Chinese citizens.

Police said the Chinese were preparing to raid the country’s communication systems.

The centre, with its modern software, is said to be capable of infiltrating bank accounts, M-Pesa accounts and even ATMs. It is suspected to be the biggest such centre in Africa.

The Chinese were discovered after a fire broke out in the rented house, killing one of them. Police had gone to the house to investigate the incident when they found the group hurdled in a room that had “sophisticated” communication gadgets.

By yesterday, 77 Chinese nationals were charged in a Nairobi court in connection with the activities at the premises.


On Tuesday, 37 of them appeared before magistrate Hannah Kaguru, who ruled that they be detained at Gigiri Police Station for five days to help with investigations.

And yesterday, 40 other Chinese were charged with illegally operating a radio station in Runda.

The prosecution said that police officers found some of the equipment in the house where the accused lived.


Ms Kaguru ordered that the new group be remanded in custody for 10 days.

ICT Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i, his Foreign Affairs counterpart Amina Mohamed and DCI Director Ndegwa Muhoro visited the house Wednesday. They said the discovery of the equipment was a breakthrough in the fight against cybercrime.

The Chinese ambassador to Kenya has been summoned to the Foreign Affairs ministry to explain how his nationals were running such a huge centre.

“We summoned the Deputy Ambassador (and) Ms Amina made it clear that the Chinese government should fully cooperate (with the Kenya government) on this matter. China promised to send investigators to work with ours on this matter,” Dr Matiang’i told the Nation.

He said the house hosted more than 70 people, who, he claimed, were behind the recent spate of cybercrimes in the country.

The prosecution said the 77 came to Kenya as tourists.

The prosecution also told the court that several computers had been seized but did not state how many.