Corona Heist? How Government Officials And Chinese Cartels Tried Selling Donated Covid-19 Kits

An intricate scheme that involves possible collusion between Chinese businessmen, government officers, a clique of Ministry of Health officials, Kenya Revenue Authority officers and rogue businessmen from China has been unearthed.

The cabal mentioned above are on the radar for trying to steal donated Covid-19 kits for Kenyan health workers. The preparations for this particular attempted heist started just three weeks after Kenya announced the first Covid-19 case on March 12. As the country struggled to understand the disease and adopt measures to contain its spread, a number of countries offered to donate key medical equipment.

Top among these was China, the first country to be hit by the pandemic. On April 5, Ambassador Sarah Serem of the Kenyan embassy in China received a consignment of medical supplies for front-line workers.The embassy wrote to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as the Ministry of Health with details of received donations. The letter was signed by Edwin Limo on behalf of the ambassador.

Fifteen days later, the donation arrived at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) aboard a China Southern Airlines Flight number CZ633. But as soon as the plane touched down an individual, whom investigations have identified as Festus Odhiambo, with no known affiliation to either the Ministry of Health or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or any government body, walked into the JKIA cargo terminal.

According to the Standard, Odhiambo, who identified himself as an employee a clearing and forwarding company called Songhong Kenya Logistics Limited, was armed with a letter from another company, Fasomo Limited, that claimed ownership of the assorted medical equipment from China. The letter, by a Mr Dennis Manyasi who is named as a manager at Fasomo, had appointed him as the authorized clearing agent for the goods.

“We authorise Festus Odhiambo Origa to clear the goods on behalf of Fasomo Limited. Your assistance towards the matter will be highly appreciated,” reads the letter addressed to Swissport Kenya Limited, the CFS that was handling the goods.The items included 6,000 pieces of N95 masks, 500 pieces of isolation gowns, 3,000 pieces of surgical masks, 500 pieces of surgical protective suits, 40 pieces of thermal thermometers and 85,000 pieces of normal masks.

At this time, The Kenya Union of Nurses and the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union were up in arms. The nurses threatened to go on strike for lack of protective gear. The doctors exposed false promises by government on the availability of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

A month after the first case, medical workers were still ill equipped to deal with the virus.In the weeks that followed, dozens of nurses and doctors would contract the virus, putting the country at greater risk.

A day after Fasomo Limited paid the Sh130,000 deposit, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs sounded the alarm bell. The ministry had not received any official communication with regard to the arrival of the donations from China.

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