FROM LEFT: Lawyer Cliff Ombeta with his clients Zein Mohamed Ahmed, Zahirabbas Khaku and Aweys Ahmed Mohamed at the Mombasa Law Courts yesterday, when the three denied seven accounts of forgery. [Photo: Kelvin Karani/Standard]
Relatives and a former employee of the late Tahir Sheikh Said (TSS) have been charged with stealing Sh9 billion.
TSS, one of Coast’s most accomplished businessmen, with vast interests in several towns and countries, died a broken man as his empire slowly collapsed under the weight of huge debts and his children fought each other over inheritance.
Detectives now believe the looting involved relatives and strangers who conspired to steal from the businessman over a period of four years.
Two cousins of the late tycoon’s first wife and a former financial controller of his company were yesterday charged with forging documents and making illegal cash transfers from his bank accounts.
The prosecution said a fourth suspect, who was not named, was abroad and under investigation.
Exactly a month after his death, Mombasa police began to arrest several people, accusing them of orchestrating a monumental forgery and looting spree that lapped up TSS’s billions.
Zein Mohamed Ahmed, his brother Aweys Ahmed Mohamed and Zahir Abbas Khaku, TSS former financial controller, pleaded not guilty to the charges before two different magistrates in Mombasa.
Zein and Zahir appeared before Mombasa Senior Principal Magistrate Francis Kyambia and denied forging documents purporting to have been sanctioned by the TSS.
They were accused of using the documents to access a total of Sh9 billion from Kenya Commercial Bank.
They were also accused of using a fake deed of guarantee and indemnity to secure a Sh1.5 billion loan from Kenya Commercial Bank on February 8, 2011.
The accused, who were represented by Gikandi Ngibuini and Cliff Ombeta, denied seven similar charges committed on different dates in which they are accused of forging documents and claiming they had been authored by TSS to secure more loans from the bank.
Zein and Zahir were released on a Sh3 million bond with two similar sureties and ordered to deposit their passports with the court. Aweys, who was charged before Mombasa Senior Principal Magistrate Martin Rabera, denied the charges but was not immediately released.
Mr Kyambia released Aweys, who owns a British passport, on a Sh3 million bond with one Kenyan surety yesterday. He was also required to deposit his passport with the court.
The magistrate threw out the prosecution’s application to detain the accused for three days pending investigations.
“The prosecution had enough time to carry on with investigations,” he said.
Aweys’s lawyers had opposed Senior Assistant Director of Prosecution Alex Muteti’s application to have him detained. Aweys also denied that on diverse dates between 2015 and February 8, 2017, he and the others stole valuation reports, company documents, certificate of lease PIN number and a feasibility study booklet of TSS salt manufacturing company for the proposal to establish a saltworks and refinery company in Mpeketoni, Lamu County.
They denied another charge stating that on February 8, at KAAB Investment in Nyali, Mombasa County, they were found with 35 documents they had stolen from TSS.
Among the documents were valuation reports for 34 plots of land in various parts of the country believed to have been used to secure the loans.
The residential and industrial plots in question are in Mavoko, Lamu Island, Malindi, Manda Island, and Mombasa.
The case will be heard on May 14.