The government on Friday revealed that Deputy President William Ruto’s Turkish associate Harun Aydin was deported on Monday on suspicion that he was engaged in money laundering, and at the request of authorities in Istanbul.
The revelation by Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i in Mombasa Friday came on the morning the Saturday Nation learnt of a visit to Nairobi in the coming days of a high-powered Turkish business delegation.
At the same time, there was confusion last evening on the exact purpose of Wiper Democratic Movement leader Kalonzo Musyoka’s mission to Turkey this week. Coming hot on the heels of Mr Aydin’s deportation, it appeared that Mr Musyoka, who has previously handled shuttle diplomacy for the government, was on such a mission to Istanbul, but his associates said he had left Nairobi on Thursday night on a private mission to the European nation.
“The speculation that he could be out there on a diplomatic mission on behalf of the Kenyan government is cheap propaganda motivated by bad faith on the part of its originators,” said Kitui Senator Enoch Wambua, in response to claims by Dr Ruto’s allies that Mr Musyoka’s mission in Turkey was suspect.
As the barbs flew in Nairobi and speculation fed the political rumour mills, Dr Matiang’i was telling a parliamentary committee in Mombasa that Mr Aydin, who was deported on Monday morning, was suspected of money laundering. Should that claim be proven, it could considerably dent the image of the Deputy President, who, as a senior government officer, is not expected to fellowship with people of questionable character.
Dr Matiang’i further said that Mr Aydin’s activities in the region had also been flagged by the intelligence officers of a neighbouring country after they noticed that he had been moving around or communicating with members of a regional money laundering network. He did not name the country.
“Because of the digitised system, we know what everyone who has a work permit is doing. We noticed, as we traced the movement of his passport, that he had been to Sudan, Goma, Entebbe and Zanzibar,” explained Dr Matiang’i.
He continued: “One of his associates in a third country was arrested in a neighbouring nation for bribing a minister. This behaviour is characteristic of people involved in money laundering… and money laundering and terrorism are joined at the hip. He was sneaked into the country twice without getting an entry stamp. If you come into the country you get a stamp of entry, and another one of exit when you leave.”
Mr Aydin, who was part of Dr Ruto’s botched trip to Uganda, was arrested last Saturday at the Wilson Airport on arrival from Entebbe by officers from the Anti-Terror Police Unit (ATPU). He was then held incommunicado at the ATPU headquarters for two nights before being escorted to a scheduled Turkish Air flight to Istanbul.
Dr Ruto’s allies and his blogging machinery have since the botched trip and Mr Aydin’s arrest insisted that the tribulations that the two underwent were motivated by political forces. According to them, Dr Ruto was prevented from boarding the flight to Entebbe to embarrass him, while Mr Aydin was deported due to his association with the DP.
Dr Ruto has himself come to the defence of Mr Aydin, whom he referred to on Tuesday last week as “a victim of top-down arrogance bred by patronage and cartels that criminalise enterprise”.
Interestingly, no one in the DP’s camp has come out to show any form of investments that Mr Aydin had done or was interested in doing in Kenya, or what Dr Ruto’s role was on the botched trip to Kampala.
Initially, Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi had claimed that Mr Aydin was a modern fruit farmer but bloggers allied to the DP later released a work permit belonging to Mr Aydin that indicated he had an energy company, further creating confusion on the nature of business that had brought him to Kenya.
On the flip side, the government’s shift from initially accusing Mr Aydin of terrorism to money laundering has also not gone unnoticed. Yesterday’s revelations by Dr Matiang’i, who was speaking for the first time on why Mr Aydin was deported, immediately raised an uproar.
The parliamentary committee, led by Mr Peter Mwathi (Limuru MP), tasked the CS to explain how the foreigner managed to enter the country unnoticed.
“Is he an investor?” wondered Mr Mwathi. “Which areas has he invested in and what is the status of these investments? Was he deported or not? Explain the allegations that the government apologised for the deportation, if it really happened?”
Dr Matiang’i said the government had not apologised because Aydin’s deportation was as a result of a mutual agreement between Nairobi and Istanbul.
“The security agents in our country were in touch (with their colleagues in Turkey) and the best thing we could do was to surrender him to his country,” said the CS. “We deported him on the understanding we have with Turkey.”
But his explanations of, and justification for, the deportation were immediately countered by Mr Aydin’s Kenyan legal team, led by senior counsel Ahmednassir Abdullahi, who said the Turkish government had not made “any representation or request to government of Kenya” on Mr Aydin.
On what sort of business Mr Aydin was involved in and why he had managed to enter the country unnoticed, Dr Matiang’i said the Turk had lied while applying for his work permit, and that he may have gained access to Kenya through its land borders or using VIP helicopters.
“He applied for a work permit but in the document he provided he said he was working in the energy sector. We have since discovered he had a dummy contract,” said the CS. “The personal information he provided regarding his contacts and office location were also non-existent. There’s privileged information I cannot share, but we cancelled the work permit.”
A work permit issued on June 30by the Kenyan government to Mr Aydin indicated that he runs a company known as Unit 2HA Investment Energy Africa Ltd. The permit, which has since been cancelled and Mr Aydin declared a persona non grata in the country, was supposed to expire on June 29, 2023.