Controversial Armenian brothers Artur Margaryan and Artur Sargasyan

Controversial Armenian brothers Artur Margaryan and Artur Sargasyan in Nairobi before they were deported inJuly 2020. Inset: Ms Evelyne Cheluget, the newly appointed Director-General of Immigration. 

| File

Immigration boss Evelyne Cheluget role in scandal involving brothers

Ms Evelyne Cheluget, the newly appointed Director-General of Immigration, chaired a committee that in 2006 issued work permits to the two controversial Armenian brothers: Artur Margaryan and Artur Sargasyan, the Nation can reveal.

MPs who investigated the Arturs saga in 2006 were told by then Immigration minister Gideon Konchellah of an inter-ministerial committee in the ministry whose work was to consider applications for work permits.

The committee was chaired by Ms Cheluget, who at the time was an assistant Principal Immigration Officer.

Ms Cheluget was among 46 witnesses who testified before a joint parliamentary committee co-chaired by MPs Paul Muite and Ramadhan Kajembe, which concluded after investigations that the two brothers were “conmen and drug traffickers” who enjoyed protection “by the high and mighty in government”.

The details are contained in a report on the investigations into the conduct of the Artur brothers and their associates, which was conducted by a joint session of the departmental committees on Administration, National Security and Local Authorities, and Administration of Justice and Legal Affairs during the sixth session of the Ninth Parliament in 2007.

Ms Cheluget testified before the MPs’ team on July 3, 2006, on the circumstances under which the committee she headed and which comprised officials from the ministries of Trade, Education, Tourism and Labour, granted work permits to the two alleged mercenaries.

According to the parliamentary report, the two foreigners had on March 13, 2006 stage-managed a press conference in the VIP lounge at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), where they claimed to have been introduced to then Langata MP Raila Odinga and Mr Kalonzo Musyoka – and further alleged to have lent Mr Odinga $1.5 million.

Mr Odinga, who was the main challenger of President Kibaki in the disputed December 2007 presidential election, which plunged the country into chaos and forced an international mediation that saw the two leaders form a Grand Coalition government, had alleged the Kibaki administration hired the two mercenaries to assassinate him prior to the polls.

“There is an inter-ministerial committee in the ministry that considers applications for work permits. The committee, which is chaired by an Assistant PIO, Ms Evelyne Cheluget, comprises officials from the Ministries of Trade, Education, Tourism and Labour,” reads the report on the investigation into the conduct of the Artur brothers and their associates dated July 2007.

In her testimony, Ms Cheluget informed the committee that the meeting that led to the issuance of the permits to the two Armenian brothers was held on January 18, 2006 and that the committee had 316 files to examine on that particular day.

She added that only the files that seemed suspicious were sent to the National Security Intelligence Service (NSIS) for security verification.

“The meeting which approved the work permits was held on January 18, 2006 and extended to January 19, 2006 [indicated] that their practice has been to prepare one set of minutes whenever the deliberations are not completed on the scheduled date of the meeting. The records of the two meetings are therefore compiled as one,” Ms Cheluget told the committee, according to the report.

She said the Inter-ministerial committee did not have prior knowledge of the presence of the Armenian brothers’ files and that the Immigration department did not have to send all the files that came before them to the NSIS for security verification. Part of the documents that were handed over to the NSIS on January 18, 2006, were the files of the two brothers for General Index (GI) checks.

In his statement to the committee, Mr Nicodemus Musyoki Ndalana, who was then NSIS Principal Intelligence Officer, said they received requests from the Principal Immigration Officer, Mr Joseph Ndathi, for GI checks for the two brothers.

Mr Ndalana explained that the NSIS did a routine check on the two brothers and returned the files to the Ms Cheluget-led committee the following day after clearing them.

“The files were returned to them as nothing had come to their attention on the two brothers, nor was there anything in their database to indicate that the persons posed or might pose a threat to the state security,” reads the report which is in our possession.

However, in mid-February 2006, the NSIS started monitoring the duo after it emerged that they were installing CCTV cameras at the Grand Regency Hotel in Nairobi, where they were staying.

According to Mr Ndalana, that is when the NSIS established that the two brothers had entered the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in 1991 as Armenian nationals and were later deported three years later after they tried to bribe a customs officer.

Despite their deportation from UAE, they on diverse dates went back to the same country.