What you need to know:
- Zuri Group Global is Deepak’s investments vehicle.
- Businessman has invested in luxury hotels while spending money on education for the less privileged in India.
Suspected Anglo Leasing scandal mastermind Deepak Kamani, who together with his father and brother were in court this week, is a billionaire with vast interests in the hospitality industry worldwide.
Investigations by the Sunday Nation have established that Mr Kamani owns Zuri Group Global, which owns a chain of five and seven star hotels in India, Kenya, the United Kingdom, South Africa and exclusive homes in Dubai. The group is also trying to venture into the dairy industry in Kenya.
Mr Kamani was charged together with his father Chamanlal Kamani and brother Rashmi Kamani with five counts of conspiracy to commit an economic crime and fraudulent acquisition of public resources totalling Sh10.4 billion for services not provided.
The offences, committed between July 2003 and June 2004, also enlist three companies said to have benefited from huge payments in Anglo Leasing contracts designed to provide modernised security surveillance systems for the police force.
According to our investigations, the Zuri Group Global owns The Zuri Hotels which are in Goa, Kumarakom, Bangalore and Sikim in India.
The world preferred Hotels and Resort booklet which ranks hotels, lists them as some of the best holiday destinations in the world.
Zuri Kumarakom, Kerela Resort and Spa are on the southern coast of India on seven hectares. This is the Zuri Group Global flagship. It has 72 luxury rooms, nature walks, houseboat cruises, sailing, yachting and an international therapy centre complete with 14 treatment rooms. There is also the Zuri-Maya and Zuri Baiguney in Sikkim, India.
According to Zuri hotels website, the facilities in Goa and Bangalore are five-star while the one in Kumarakom is a luxury resort. The Zuri hotels are run by Mr Kaman’s sons, Bobby and Abhishek.
In Kenya, Mr Kamani is associated with Diani Beach Resort and Spa in the South Coast.
In Nairobi, he is linked to an office building on Dar es Salaam Road in Industrial Area opposite Industrial Area Post Office.
But although his websites talk of properties in South Africa and United Kingdom, they are not listed.
Businessmen and close associates told the Sunday Nation that Mr Kamani also owns a property at Dubai Palm Island estimated at $35 million (Sh3.2 billion).
Besides his investments, Mr Kamani is known in India for philanthropy where he has adopted schools which he funds fully through the Zuri Foundation.
The five counts facing the Kamanis have also looped in a US national, Bradley Birkenfeld. The court in Nairobi issued an international warrant of arrest for Birkenfeld, a former employee of UBS Bank, Switzerland, currently serving a jail term in Miami for assisting US nationals evade tax.
Neue Zurcher Zeitung, a Swiss newspaper, captured the relationship between Mr Kamani and Mr Birkenfeld in its report published at the height of the scandal.
Mr Birkenfeld signed the E Corp contract to computerise the police department through his financing company, Midland Securities, while police computerisation programme was done by Info Talent, associated with Mr Kamani and his siblings.
The newspaper says that Mr Bradley’s private residence at 20 Cours de Rive in Gevena, Switzerland, was used as the offices of Midland Finance & Securities Limited.
Mr Birkenfeld was an employee of UBS, Swsitzerland where Midland securities limited had a bank account. According to the paper, companies associated with Mr Deepak Kamani may have held up to $160 million (Sh14 billion) in accounts in Geneva with HSBC, Schroder and Co, UBS and Pictet.
Info Talent was responsible for E Cop computer system, which was supposed to digitise the Kenya Police Service in 2003. According to the paper, Info Talent submitted to Kenya Government a 107 page offer document and subsequent correspondence were signed by the “Director” of Info talent, B. Birkenfeld.
On November 19, 2003, a delivery contract worth over 90 million Swiss Francs was concluded. The contract was signed with no tender process or any real negotiations over price having taken place.
An agreement marked “secret”, again signed by “B. Birkenfeld”, gives the impression that Info Talent would prefinance the not yet delivered computer services.
Kenya undertook to reimburse this sham credit in installments. Subsequently, Kenya paid its alleged debts and transferred the installments on time to Info talent’s account at HSBC Private Bank in Geneva.
Info Talent is not registered in the Swiss Register of Commerce. On numerous documents, the company provides two different addresses, as well as a telephone and fax number: the telephone number is today no longer in service, but in 2003 it was registered in Birkenfeld’s name.
Moreover, one of Info Talent’s two business addresses turned out to be Birkenfeld’s private address, Cours de Rive 20 in Geneva. No indications can be found in the records that Birkenfeld’s employer at the time, UBS, had anything to do with the scheme.
According to The Financial Times, Mr Birkenfeld helped US federal government net 5,000 tax evading tycoons who were hiding close to $50 billion in UBS accounts.
According to the paper, over the years, UBS solicited business from rich American clients and helped create structures that enabled them to avoid tax.
The report says Mr Birkenfeld spent much of the past 15 years in Switzerland, where he burnished his upper middle-class US credentials with the charm and savvy of a pukka Swiss private banker.
He worked in Geneva as one of about 60 UBS private bankers in three Swiss cities, providing services for clients that ranged from advice on buying jewellery and art to tricks such as squeezing diamonds into toothpaste tubes so as to move them without detection.
The material trappings came in tow. Over the years, Mr Birkenfeld acquired a flat in Geneva and a dream chalet in Zermatt municipality with an unblocked view of the Matterhorn, a mountain in Alps, straddling the border between Switzerland and Italy.
The Matterhorn is pyramidal and its summit the highest in the Alps.
So established was he in Switzerland that he gained a coveted “C” residency status — the category allowing permanent residence only available to those who have put down roots and show an unblemished record.