U.S President Barack Obama has frozen the American assets of seven foreigners who have been identified as foreign narcotics kingpins under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act.
In a letter to the US Congress made available on the website of the White House, President Obama recommended the seven foreign individuals as “appropriate for sanctions under the Kingpin Act…”
Two Kenyans were among the seven: businesswoman Naima Mohammed Nyakiniywa and Harun Mwau, a prominent Kenyan multi-millionaire and former member of parliament.
Little is known about Naima Mohammed, except for the fact that she runs a few businesses in Kenya and Tanzania including cyber cafes, saloons and retail outlets. Harun Mwau, on the other hand, is an immensely popular man in Kenyan circles. In 1992, he was a presidential candidate under the political party, PICK, and once served as the head of Kenya’s anti-corruption commission.
Mwau is also reputed to be one of Kenya’s richest men, and is believed to own substantial interests in Nakumatt Supermarkets, East Africa’s largest retail chain. Last year, Satya Capital, a private equity firm run by billionaire Mo Ibrahim, offered to buy the retail chain, but the deal fell through.
This is not the first time Mwau has been fingered for his involvements in drug trafficking. Last year, Kenya’s Internal Security Minister George Saitoti named Mwau as one of Kenya’s major drug traffickers alongside other members of parliament including Gideon Mbuvi, William Kabogo and Ali Hassan Joho.
The U.S. Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act of 1999 freezes the U.S.-based assets of international drug traffickers and denies designated drug lords access to the U.S. financial system. According to the act, any American discovered to be doing business with any of the seven risk going to jail for 30 years or paying a $5 million fine.
Others included on the black list are Manuel Torres Felix (Mexico), Gonzalo Inzunza Inzunza (Mexico), Haji Lal Jan Ishaqzai (Afghanistan), Kamchybek Asanbekovich Kolbayev (Kyrgyzstan) and Javier Antonio Calle Serna (Colombia).
The Act requires America’s Secretary of Treasury, Secretary of State, Attorney General, Secretary of Defence, and the Director of the CIA to identify drug kingpins and propose them to the President for sanctions.