Taiwan And China Tussle Over Taiwanese Suspects In Kenya

Michael Turton , August 8, 2016 7:53am

Taiwan and China are tussling over Taiwanese suspects in Kenya found not guilty in a recent trial (Taiwan News)

Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) said Saturday that it has conveyed Taiwan’s position on the matter to Chinese authorities through various bilateral liaison channels.

The MAC said it has urged Beijing not to take the Taiwanese to China before the two sides can reach an agreement on how to handle cross-border fraud involving people from Taiwan and China.

Since misreporting by Taiwan-based commentators has been so common in these affairs, I always check the Kenyan papers. The Kenyan Daily Nation reported:

“I now conclude that after examining all the evidence on record, I find that the prosecution has totally failed to prove its case against the accused persons, the defence was credible and convincing and I now acquit all of them,” Magistrate Gandani said.

The 40 had been charged with running a telecommunication system without a license, conspiring to commit a felony and engaging in an organised criminal activity.

They had denied the charges when they were arraigned in court in December 2014 and were not released on bond.

They had been arrested after another group of 37 Chinese nationals were caught and charged with similar offenses.

A fire in a residential house in Nairobi’s Runda estate had led to their arrest as well as the death of one unidentified Chinese.

There are several differences between the current set of deportees and the previous. First, the Taiwan government had been slow in acting on the case. In the current one, the Taiwan rep is already negotiating with Kenya authorities. Second, in the previous case, though it was widely reported that the Taiwanese had been found innocent of all charges, that was false in two ways: they hadn’t been charged with fraud(signaling to me that China and Kenya had made a deal), and 8 were indeed found guilty of having false documents and jailed for a year. In this case it looks as though the charges were different and at least included “organized crime”, whatever that means

Interestingly, both this group and the previous group were busted in the same set of actions after a fire exposed the equipment (Jan 2015 report). It is hard for this writer to believe that the evidence wasn’t up to snuff. From the BBC report of December 2014:

“Preliminary findings show the fire was caused by one of the servers they were illegally operating,” the director of Kenya’s Criminal Investigations Department, Ndegwa Muhoro, told the privately owned Standard newspaper.

Numerous telephone headsets, computers linked to high-speed internet and monitors were found.

…..

The charges against the 77 so far include “being in the country illegally and operating radio equipment” without the necessary permits, AFP quotes an unnamed source as saying.

The suspects had been living in “military-style dormitories”, and Chinese officials were shocked by the revelations, the Standard reports.

The group had been preparing to “raid the country’s communication systems” and had equipment capable of infiltrating bank accounts, Kenya’s M-Pesa mobile banking system and ATM machines, according to Kenya’s privately owned Daily Nation newspaper.

Once again, I am thinking that a deal is in place and they were found innocent so they could be sent on to China to be charged with fraud — a charge notably absent from the list above — and jailed there as a signal to the massive complex of telecom fraudsters across Asia and Africa that China will not tolerate this behavior.

______________
Daily Links:

Michael Turton

A long time expat in Taiwan.