KRA seizes five high-end vehicles from UK at Mombasa Port
Customs officials in Mombasa have seized five more high-end motor vehicles and two motorbikes suspected to have been stolen from the United Kingdom (UK) by an international smuggling syndicate.
The vehicles which had been declared as being on transit to Uganda were intercepted at the Port of Mombasa following joint operation between Kenya, UK and the international police security agents (Interpol).
The vehicles, a Range Rover Vogue, Range Rover Sport, BMW 530D, BMW X5, Volkswagen Tiguan and two motorcycles were seized after a verification process that involved KRA Customs enforcement team, Interpol, Metropolitan Police from UK, officers from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) among other security agencies.
Last year, some about 30 vehicles valued at Sh 130 million were seized at the port after they were reported stolen from the UK between the month of March and September 2019. The vehicles have since been shipped back to the owners.
Waqar Qureshi, the First Secretary at the British High Commission to Kenya, witnessed the verification exercise at Focus Container Freight Station in Mombasa where the suspected containers holding the vehicles were being held.
The Range Rover Vogue, Range Rover Sport, BMW 530 D model and the two motorcycles were packed in one container, while the BMW x5 and the Volkswagen Tiguan were in a separate container.
Qureshi who confirmed that all the vehicles had been stolen from owners in the United Kingdom said the UK will work with its Kenyan counterparts to immediately re-ship the vehicles back to their owners.
The bill of lading for the container with the three vehicles and two motor-cycles indicated that the cargo was shipped from the Port of Jabel Ali and the consignor was Jason Abayomi from London. The consignor’s address was flat 15, 145 Seymour Place Mary Lesbone, while the consignee was listed as Kwizera Gilbert Jimmy of Entebbe, Kampala.
Shipping documents for the container loaded with the BMW X5 and the Volkswagen Tiguan indicated that the cargo was shipped from the Port of Antwerpen and the consignor was Belgo Malienne NV AS, while the consignee was Vumilia Investments, Uganda.
Investigation shows that the Range Rover Sport was stolen on March 23, 2019, the Range Rover Vogue on May5, 2019, the BMW 530D model on May 8, 2019, the BMW x5 on June 6, 2019, and the Volkswagen Tiguan on December 7, 2018. The Motor cycles were stolen on April 12, 2019 and May 13, 2019 respectively.
The vehicles were inscribed with chassis numbers of other vehicles which have not been reported as stolen in the United Kingdom to circumvent border control systems.
It is believed that such smuggled high-end vehicles are diverted to the Kenyan local market which hurts the local motor-vehicle industry. Further, proceeds from the illegal business are believed to be responsible for funding organised crime.
KRA said in a statement that it will not on its efforts to prevent the Port of Mombasa from being used as a conduit for illicit trade.
A cartel of sophisticated criminal gang operating in the UK and Kenya has been stealing prestige vehicles from the driveways and parking lots of wealthy homes in Britain and exporting to Africa through the Port of Mombasa.
Exporting and selling of stolen vehicles on the black market is a lucrative business as it also involves evasion of import duties.
The vehicles are concealed inside containers by loads of clothes, mattresses and others assorted household goods or hidden behind large sheets of cardboard.
The majority of cars targeted are high-priced models from premium brands, such as Audi, BMW, Land Rover and Mercedes, which have strong resale values.
In most of the cases cargo declaration manifests indicates the containers to be ferrying house hold goods or vehicles of lesser value for the consignee to evade paying required import duty. The high end vehicles attract high taxes.