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Kenyan airline boss arrested on fraud charges

Posted 2 March 2017 · Add Comment

The founder of a Kenyan start-up Baracuda Airways has been arrested on allegations of fraud according to The Star newspaper. John Majiwa has been charged with scamming more than 40 investors out of almost $2 million.

The newspaper quoted the Kenyan Flying Squad, which deals with serious crimes, as saying Majiwa used the names of prominent Kenyans to scam investors. He claimed that Deputy President William Ruto and Ngina Kenyatta, the former first lady, were shareholders. He was one of four arrested and has been released on bail.

Some victims of the fraud were pilots, co-pilots and cabin crew, who were told they had to pay up front for training and would be reimbursed once investor funds became clear. Later, Majiwa allegedly told these potential employees to deposit money into his account in order to activate it, so that Prince Rahim of Saudi Arabia could invest in the 'airline'.

The Star report quotes an anonymous source who says that she and five other trainees launched their own inquiry into Majiwa after becoming suspicious. They discovered that Rahim had rejected an offer to invest in Baracuda Airways after learning that the airline had not secured any aircraft. The trainees were allegedly offered management positions in the company to retain their loyalty, but were later sacked when Majiwa became aware of their investigation.

Baracuda Airways Holdings was granted a one-year air service license by the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority in January 2017 to operate non-scheduled air services from Kenya to destinations in Africa, the Middle East and Europe, from April 2017. It also secured permission to fly scheduled services from Nairobi Wilson to Mombasa, Kisumu, Eldoret, Lamu, Malindi, Ukunda, Kisii, Migori, Homa Bay, Masai Mara, Wajir, Mandera and Lodwar using DHC8 and B737 equipment.

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