Misappropriation of funds at the Somali Embassy in Nairobi
The Monitoring Group has discovered serious irregularities concerning the management of public financial resources at the Somali Embassy in Nairobi and has conducted an investigation into funds collected by the embassy for passports and other travel documents for the period January 2014 to April 2015.
The former Somali Ambassador, Mohamed Ali Nur “Americo”, had been in office for more than 10 years and was the longest-serving diplomat in Kenya. He was recalled to Mogadishu in early April 2015. The newly nominated Jamal Hassan began his mandate on 4 August 2015 after the Government of Kenya accepted his credentials. Sources informed the Monitoring Group that approximately 10days prior to his recall Ambassador “Americo” brought a team of IT specialists into the Embassy, allegedly to perform updates on the embassy’s computers. In fact, information was removed from the computers and many documents were also destroyed.
Every Somali national applying for a passport in Nairobi has to pay USD 130 and KES 2,000 (USD 19) (available in annex 3.2.a). The Ministry of Interior requires that USD 98 of the fee is transferred to its Dahabshiil account in Mogadishu and USD 32 is kept by the embassy. That means that, for each passport issued, the Nairobi embassy keeps USD 51, including the KES fee. For an emergency travel document, the embassy charges USD 55.
According to high-ranking FGS officials interviewed by the Monitoring Group, all of the money collected by embassies for passports and applicants for travel documents at the Nairobi Embassy deposit the relevant fees into two accounts in the Nairobi branch of the Transnational Bank.
Over 7,500 Somali nationals applied for travel documents during the timeframe of the investigation. The total amount collected in both accounts for this timeframe was USD 960,836. Two remittance companies, Amal Express and Dahabshiil, were used to transfer the funds to Somalia. The assessments of the Group are based on the statements of the two accounts for the period mentioned above and the transfer receipts from the two hawalas for the same period.
According to bank statements, cash withdrawals were made from the two designated deposit accounts on a regular basis but the amount of money withdrawn was not consistent with the sums transferred to Mogadishu. According to receipts from the two hawalas, the total amount transferred between January 2014 and April 2015 to the Ministry of Interior’s Dahabshiil account in Mogadishu was USD 486,258. That leads to a difference of USD 474,578. The receipts show that cash transfers were made mainly by an individual named Mohamed Ahmed Anwar (see annex 3.2.b).
The Group learned that he was not even an employee of the Embassy but a friend of Ambassador “Americo”. In some rare cases, the ambassador himself made transfers to Mogadishu.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs allocates USD 49,200 for the operation of the Embassy in Nairobi per quarter. For the period mentioned above, in addition to the USD 474,578 from travel document fees that was not transferred to Mogadishu, the FGS allocated an additional USD 246,000 to the Embassy. This adds up to a total Embassy income of USD 720,578.
Ambassador “Americo” was recalled to Mogadishu on 2 April 2015. On 4 April, Anwar made six cash withdrawals totalling USD 9,000. At the close of business on 4 April, the two embassy accounts were almost empty, with respective balances of only KES 534 [USD 5] and USD 400. This means that the Somali Embassy in Nairobi spent USD 720,178 over 15 months. For comparison, according to the Appropriation Act for the 2015 Budget, the Ministry of Health received USD 793,032 for a period of 12 months, the Ministry of Lab our and Social Affairs USD 760,116, the Ministry of Youth and Sport USD 572,220.
The Monitoring Group corresponded with Ambassador “Americo” by telephone and email between 7 September and 12 September 2015 while he was in London. When asked about the passport money he stated he used it for …assistance of refugees in Dadaab and Kakuma, rent of vehicles for dignitaries, assistance to Somalis accused of piracy in Mombasa, assistance of needy Somalis in Kenya, i.e. tickets, school fees, hospital fees, etc. Function for the Embassy. Assist Somalis throughout Kenya who needed assistance. Paid for school fees for students who got good grades for encouragement. Held seminars for the youth in Eastleigh, Mombassa and other cities. Paid hospital fees for mothers, elders and other Somalis who could not pay their hospital fees (sic).He also claimed that all these expenses were documented.
The Monitoring Group contacted the Somali Embassy in Nairobi to verify if the above expenses were accounted for. Embassy officials who were in office when Ambassador “Americo” handed over his duties informed the Monitoring Group that the former ambassador passed on no documents whatsoever at his departure and that even the rent payments for the embassy building were USD 6,000 in arrears. The Monitoring Group also understands that Ambassador “Americo” personally handled the salaries of embassy employees and all expenses.
Chinese Government grant and confusion over legal payments
In addition, the Monitoring Group discovered that the Somali Embassy in Nairobi received a USD 1 million grant in April 2013 from the Chinese Government intended for the FGS (see annex 3.2.c), and only transferred USD 479,314 to the Central Bank of Somalia. The remainder was allegedly used to pay legal fees to Ibrahim, Issack & Company in Nairobi for a lawsuit concerning a Somali Government property in the Kenyan capital. In the 1990s, the last Somali ambassador of the Siad Barre regime sold the premises of the Somali Embassy in Nairobi to a local businessman.
Somali authorities challenged the sale at the Nairobi High Court and won the property back in 2013.
In a letter addressed to the Finance Minister of Somalia, dated 16 September 2013 (available in annex 3.2.d), the then Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and Deputy Prime Minister Fawzia Yusuf H. Adam claimed that Ambassador “Americo” had received the Chinese grant into his own personal account and not into the account of the Embassy. Furthermore, in this letter, Adam stated that Ambassador “Americo” allegedly paid USD 517,686 for legal fees to Ibrahim, Issack & Company law firm in Nairobi. Adam also stated that Ambassador “Americo” got approval for this expenditure from her deputy, Mohamed Nur Ga’al, then State Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, while she was away on official business. She claimed however that before leaving Mogadishu, she had appointed the Minister of Justice and Religious Affairs to act on her behalf, not Ga’al. Adam also stated at the end of the letter that the law firm’s original invoice for services rendered was only USD 250,000 and that USD 140,000 had been allocated in 2011 for this purpose by then Prime Minster Mohamed Abdulahi Mohamed “Farmaajo.”
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