An Interpol operation has led to the impounding of a car registered in the name of a company associated with the Eldoret North MP William Ruto in Eldoret, Western Kenya. The Range Rover's engine number was traced by Interpol with the assistance of the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA). The vehicle chassis and other identification numbers tally with those of a vehicle which had been reported stolen in the UK in 2005. It is among several vehicles netted by the International Police Organisation during a probe into an international car theft ring.
It is said that the vehicle was registered under Amaco Insurance Company, one of the biggest underwriters for public service vehicles in Kenya and in which which Ruto has interests. 'Amaco bought the car for Ruto a few years back and has been using it until it was impounded. He does not seem bothered by the development because he has several cars,' said a Ruto confidant. The KRA officials on the lookout for the vehicle impounded it as it was being driven by one of Ruto's drivers. They removed the number plate - KBL 001H - before driving the dark blue car valued at slightly more than Sh8 million to their yard.
'We have all the documents for the car showing its origin, who sold it to us, at how much and the bill of lading that came with the car and KRA receipts showing the duty paid. The lawyers have been dealing with the matter and we hope it can be resolved soon so that Mheshimiwa Ruto can get back his car,' said a senior manager at Amaco.
Four other cars with foreign registration numbers are being held within the same parking as police investigate how they were brought into the country. Interpol has in the last few weeks been watching Kenyan roads in search of stolen cars following reports that Kenya is becoming an important market for 4x4 vehicles brought in by an international criminal ring operating in the UK and other parts of Europe. Agents from Interpol have carried out an operation in which dozens of expensive cars stolen in Europe were recovered. Kenyan police have confirmed that they worked jointly with Interpol to recover vehicles, some of which were on the road and locally registered; 17 vehicles were impounded on Wednesday. However, the Criminal Investigations Department director Ndegwa Muhoro said they were not in a hurry to take their owners to court, 'Most of these people are innocent and we have to fully investigate to determine who is culpable.' said Muhoro in a report published on the website of the International Association of Auto Theft Investigators, an association founded in 1952 in the USA.
A source at the Office of the President said the operation was carried out in secret so that those who had bought the stolen vehicles do not hide them. More swoops for stolen vehicles, this time saloons and station wagons, are planned based on the information received from Interpol, the source said. The engine and chassis numbers of the vehicles impounded are being checked to establish if they were reported stolen in other countries. The Interpol office has an inventory of all vehicles stolen across the world and at a click of a button they are able to tell whether a car was stolen or not. Last September, a similar operation was conducted in Tanzania and 51 vehicles impounded. Twenty two of the vehicles were stolen from Japan, 12 from South Africa, eight from Malaysia, three from UK and one each from Kenya, Tanzania, Slovenia, Germany, Mozambique and Australia.