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Norwegian fraudster who invested in Nairobi and the fight over his property

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Norwegian fraudster who invested in Nairobi and the fight over his property by Kenyans247(1): Thu 09, July, 2020 09:36pm
Before the Interpol finally caught up with him in Nairobi, Norwegian criminal-on-the-run Roger Klinge Dyrnes thought he would never be traced. In Kenya, Norwegian papers claimed, Dyrnes paid millions of shillings to hide – and conduct business for about six years.

Whatever he was doing in Nairobi, nobody knows.

But in July 2014, his luck ran out and he was escorted to the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and quietly flown to Norway, where the then 60-year-old man was awaited at Oslo’s Gardermoen International Airport by the country’s National Authority for Investigation and Prosecution of Economic and Environmental Crime, a specialised unit that also prosecutes the cases it investigates. For that, Okokrim, as it is well-known, has a high turnaround of cases.

The choice of Kenya as his hideout was, perhaps, apt for Dyrnes; after all, there was a dysfunctional police system and Kenya did not have an extradition agreement with Norway. At best, Kenya could not legally extradite him but managed to deport him back home.

At the airport, three Okokrim prosecutors were waiting for him.

The story of Dyrnes would perhaps have ended there for us had another case not opened up in Nairobi over his properties. In the case, a woman known as Rachel Njoki Nielsen alias Rachel Njoki Karumbi filed a case in court over the ownership of three properties in Riverside Drive, Nairobi. The three properties, some elegant apartments, have been identified in court documents as Flat No. 8, Flat No, 1B 10 and Flat No.1 in Aman Flats.

When Dyrnes escaped from Norway, we now know, he had been accused of fraud, racketeering and tax evasion to the tune of over Nk 50 million, approximately Sh551 million. He had also conned several construction companies of millions of kroner through fictitious invoicing and VAT fraud.

While his partner was arrested and jailed, Dyrnes managed to sneak to Lithuania, where he got a new passport and changed his name to Orleg Orlov. In the world of fake passports, Lithuania was well known. Dyrnes had, perhaps, taken advantage of the chaos in post-Soviet Lithuania where doors had been opened to all those who could claim to have roots in the country since 1940 to claim citizenship. The move had opened doors for powerbrokers and influence peddlers to sell Lithuanian citizenship. Actually, President Rolandas Paksas had been impeached in 2004 for awarding citizenship to his Russian campaign financier Yuri Borisov, once accused of selling arms to Sudan. That is where Dyrnes landed and easily got an alias.

It is not clear at what point he got a third alias, Roger Wilhelmsen, but it also appears to be one of the names he was using while in Nairobi. With these false papers, a girlfriend and property in Nairobi’s quiet neighbourhood, where everyone minded their own business, “Orlov” had nothing to fear. The court in Nairobi is now being told that Njoki was “Orlov”’s girlfriend/partner and that she held the properties in Nairobi on behalf of the Norwegian fugitive.

While Njoki had held the properties in trust, it is claimed in court documents that she had in turn given “Orlov” power of attorney to act on her behalf regarding the said properties.

In Norway, “Orlov” had emerged as a central figure in the construction industry and he was one of the people who crafted briefcase companies that were used for money laundering and tax evasion.

This is how the “Orlov” racket worked. He would purport to hire undocumented labour for his briefcase company, KA Bygg. He would then issue fictitious invoices to the main contractor. “Orlov” would then withdraw the hefty amounts in cash and it would seem in the tax records that the contractor was paying for genuine labour. The money would then be paid back to the contractor in cash and “Orlov” would retain 20 per cent for that fraud. On top of that, he would also demand VAT refund on the basis of false invoices. Most of the cash was used to pay undocumented workers and extend the fraud.

In Norway, a country with a booming construction industry, companies would actually carry out the real work, while at the same time using fake subcontractors in briefcase companies, where no one works, to launder money.

It was this fictitious billing that landed “Orlov” in trouble and the reason he escaped to Nairobi.

Little was known about him, only that he had originally come from Sunnmøre – a district overlooking the Norwegian Sea.

But was “Orlov” betrayed by his Nairobi friends? Two Nairobi businessmen, Ahmed Abdi and Najma Mohamed, and who claim to have bought the properties, claimed in court that Njoki orchestrated the deportation of Oleg “Orlov” from the country to pave the way for her to grab his properties.

Both wanted the court to order the immigration department to allow “Orlov” to fly to Nairobi, even though he is a prohibited immigrant, and to testify on their behalf. But interestingly, Njoki opposed the appearance of “Orlov” in Nairobi, arguing before the court that his appearance would be unlawful and asking Justice S. Okong’o to dismiss the application. Four months ago, the judge ruled that “Orlov”’s testimony “would be necessary in order for the court to reach a fair determination of the dispute between the parties.”

“I am of the view that this is an appropriate case in which a prohibited immigrant should be allowed to enter the country temporarily,” said Justice Okongo in the little-covered case.

Back in Norway, “Orlov” did not have a good time. Shortly after he was arrested at the Oslo airport, he was taken to court where he was charged in a high-profile case that was used by Okokrim to showcase how they pursue fugitives.

Petter Noreng, a lawyer at Okokrim, was quoted saying that “Orlov”’s arrest had given the agency a chance to put an end to the cartel networks in the country’s construction industry.

“For us, it is important to have a message sent out that in the long run it is useless to leave. The police usually get hold of those who do, sooner or later,” Noreng told local journalists.

In court, he admitted to laundering about Sh550 million and he was sentenced to 3.5 years in jail. But the worst was that he was banned from conducting business forever, besides being fined 3.5 million kroner (Sh39 million).

Although he has since left prison, the Norwegian media has been following up the man and they found him working for a construction company, Afore Consulting AS. While the journalists think he is the owner, he claimed he was an employee. “The man with a pony-tail”, as he is described by Norwegian media, was receiving several large assignments – and as a subcontractor.

Confronted by a journalist, he said he was Roger Wilhelmsen. “But I do not have a leading position in this company, I am only employed as an operating manager. You can't deny me being employed, you know,” he said. Later, he told another media house that the company was owned by an Italian, Abbas Madani.

But shortly after Dagbladet revealed Roger Wilhelmsen’s identity as the man banned from doing business, his company was thrown out of the construction site by the main contractor, S-Bygg, who blamed the tax agency for failing to inform them about the man.

Now, if he ever manages to fly back to Kenya for the property case, we shall have a chance to see the man Norwegians banned from doing business.

So, Kenyans, watch out for the Amman property saga and the man with three identities: Roger Wilhelmsen, Orleg Orlov and Roger Klinge Dyrnes. Actually, he is identified with the three names in the Nairobi case, meaning that he is the same person.

jkamau@ke.nationmedia.com @johnkamau1

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