How the mighty Akasha Syndicate was ensnared by DEA and jailed
At the very kernel of the Vicky Goswami-Ali Punjani drug bust is the deadly and dangerous Akasha family with strong global links and sinister connections with the underworld and a long history in drug trafficking.
 
So who are the Akashas? IANS tried to find their background and a lot of it emerged from the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) report filed in the US District Court, Southern District of New York, in the US vs Baktash Akasha Abdalla case. 
 
Baktash and his brother Faisal have underscored the Akasha name in Kenya by saying -- "Whoever comes and wherever they come from, when they say our name, they know we are drug dealers...meaning we work in drugs." They are the kingpins of what is a global drug cartel. 
 
In continuum with the DEA probe, in mid August this year, a US judge sentenced a leading Kenyan drug trafficker, Baktash Akasha, to 25 years in prison after he pleaded guilty last year to a conspiracy to import heroin and methamphetamine and other crimes.
 
US District Judge Victor Marrero in Manhattan sentenced Akasha, 42. Prosecutors described Akasha as the leader of a crime syndicate called the 'Akasha Organisation', a major smuggling operation connecting the poppy fields of Afghanistan to European and US cities. In his guilty plea, Akasha also admitted to bribing officials in Kenya.
 
His brother, Ibrahim Akasha, has also pleaded guilty in the case and is scheduled to be sentenced by the same judge in November.
 
Baktash Akasha took control of the organisation after his father, Ibrahim Akasha, was killed in a shooting, according to authorities.
 
The case stemmed from a US Drug Enforcement Administration probe into the Akasha Organisation, leading to the extradition of the brothers to the US from Kenya in January 2017 along with Gulam Hussein, a Pakistani national charged with heading a drug transportation network, and Vijaygiri 'Vicky' Goswami, an Indian businessman accused of managing the organisation's drug business. 
 
According to the Superseding Indictment, other court filings, and statements made during court proceedings: 
 
AKASHA ABDALLA and his brother, Ibrahim Akasha Abdalla, a/k/a "Ibrahim Akasha" (together, "the defendants") operated a sprawling and lucrative international drug-trafficking organisation, which distributed multi-tonne quantities of narcotics, including hashish, ephedrine, methamphetamine and methaqulone -- a Schedule I controlled substance commonly referred to in Europe, South Africa and elsewhere as "Mandrax" or "mandies," and in the US as "Quaaludes." 
 
For almost two decades, BAKTASH AKASHA ABDALLA acted as the leader of the Akasha Organisation, and Ibrahim Akasha Abdalla functioned as his brother's deputy. The defendants engaged in acts of violence to protect the reputation of the Akasha Organisation and their drug-trafficking business. 
 
For example, in 2014, the defendants kidnapped and assaulted a rival drug trafficker in Kenya named David Armstrong. The defendants helped orchestrate the murder in South Africa of an associate of Armstrong, who was known as "Pinky" and was shot approximately 32 times in the street. The defendants subsequently participated in an altercation at a public shopping mall in Kenya with an Armstrong associate named Stanley Livondo, during which Ibrahim Akasha Abdalla threatened Livondo with a pistol. 
 
By early 2014, the defendants and other members of the Akasha Organisation started to work to import huge quantities of methaqualone precursor chemicals into Africa in order to fuel the illicit pills' production in South Africa. 
 
The defendants used the proceeds of their methaqualone-related business to pursue other illegal ventures, including efforts to import ephedrine that was produced illegally by Avon Lifesciences in India, so that the Akasha Organisation and others could manufacture methamphetamine in Africa. 
 
In connection with these methamphetamine-production efforts, the defendants aligned the Akasha Organisation and other associates with co-defendant Muhammad Asif Hafeez, a/k/a "Sultan," and worked together to establish a methamphetamine-production facility in Mozambique. 
 
But the defendants, Hafeez and other co-conspirators, were forced to abandon their plan after the law enforcement authorities seized approximately 18 tonnes of ephedrine from an Avon Lifesciences factory in Solapur, India, including several tonnes of ephedrine that the defendants and Hafeez planned to use to manufacture methamphetamine in Mozambique.
 
Over the course of several months beginning March 2014, during telephone calls and meetings in Nairobi and Mombasa, Kenya, the defendants agreed to supply, and in fact did supply, multi-kilogram quantities of heroin and methamphetamine to individuals they believed to be representatives of a South American drug-trafficking organisation, but who were in fact confidential sources (the "CSes") working at the direction and under the supervision of the DEA. 
 
The defendants negotiated on behalf of the Akasha Organisation to procure and distribute hundreds of kilograms of heroin from suppliers in the Afghanistan/Pakistan region and to produce and distribute hundreds of kilograms of methamphetamine, which they understood would ultimately be imported into the US. 
 
During a meeting in Mombasa in April 2014, BAKTASH AKASHA ABDALLA introduced a confidential source via Skype to one of his heroin suppliers in Pakistan, who said he could provide 420 kg of 100 per cent pure heroin, which he called "diamond" quality, for distribution in the US. 
 
Thereafter, in June 2014, a co-defendant began discussing with the CSes his ability to procure methamphetamine precursor chemicals and to establish labs to produce methamphetamine for importation to the US. 
 
In a meeting in Mombasa in September 2014, BAKTASH AKASHA ABDALLA introduced another co-defendant as a narcotics transporter from Afghanistan who moved huge quantities of narcotics using ships. BAKTASH AKASHA ABDALLA and a co-defendant also described Hafeez to the CSes as one of the top drug traffickers in the world. 
 
In September and October 2014, Ibrahim Akasha Abdalla personally delivered 1 kg samples of methamphetamine and heroin to the CSes in Nairobi on behalf of the Akasha Organisation. 
 
In early November, Ibrahim Akasha Abdalla personally delivered an additional 98 kg of heroin to the CSes in Nairobi on behalf of the Akasha Organisation. A few days later, Ibrahim Akasha Abdalla also delivered another kg of methamphetamine. In the course of these preliminary transactions, the Akasha Organisation provided a total of 99 kg of heroin and 2 kg of methamphetamine to the CSes, and agreed to provide hundreds of kilograms more of each.
 
The defendants, along with Gulam Hussein and Vijaygiri Anandgiri Goswami alias Vicky, were provisionally arrested by Kenyan Anti-Narcotics Unit officers on November 9, 2014, in Mombasa, prior to another planned meeting with the CSes. 
 
At the time of the provisional arrests in Kenya, 500 kg of heroin brokered by Hafeez were being transported through international waters to the defendants in Africa. The defendants directed the ship to return to the Afghanistan/Pakistan region rather than risking interdiction upon arrival. 
 
Following the arrests and during pending extradition proceedings, the defendants continued to distribute huge quantities of narcotics. They used some of the drug proceeds to bribe Kenyan officials -- including judges, prosecutors and law enforcement officers -- in an effort to avoid extradition to face the charges against them in the US. 
 
On January 29, 2017, the Kenyan government expelled the defendants, and the DEA brought them to the Southern District of New York for prosecution.
 
The strong Indian connect comes from Vicky Goswami and Ali Punjwani, both married to Indian actresses Mamta Kulkarni and Kim Sharma (now estranged), respectively. In 2013, Vicky Goswami, after serving a 15-year sentence in Dubai, accepted the Akasha proposal and began to help them distribute the 'abba' (a precursor chemical they would use to manufacture mandrax) that they accessed through their corrupt connections with Kenyan officials and large scale manufacturers of mandrax in South Africa. 
 
From here the Akashas and Goswami expanded their illegal distribution of abba by seeking out other suppliers. Baktash obtained contact information for an abba supplier in China named Martin Hong. Sometime in June-July 2014, Baktash arranged for Hong to travel from China to Mombasa to meet with the Akashas and Goswami. 
 
They decided that Hong supply them with abba at $40,000 per tonne, plus an additional $30,000 per tonne if he agreed to an exclusive partnership. After initial hesitation, Hong accepted the offer. 
 
Over the next three years -- including while the Akashas were bailed pending the US extradition request which they were actively obstructing -- Hong provided the Akasha Organisation 10 tonnes of abba. 
 
From this point, he was involved virtually in every deal that the Akasha Organisation entered. In 2014 and 2015, the Akashas' primary drug trafficking rival in Mombasa was Ali Punjani. To target Punjani, the Akashas targeted associates like Speedy and Tony Sanhani.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.
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    From shareholding to consultancy, Rajya Sabha members earn in crores: ADR
    The upper house or the Rajya Sabha (RS) members of Parliament are often called 'unelected'. Many a time allegations are levelled against political parties that such seats are "sold". Now the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), a National Election Watchdog has reviewed financial interests of 213 sitting Rajya Sabha members to sense why they are so sought after.
     
    The ADR report has found 89 (41.8 per cent) MPs have declared that they have a financial interest that falls under either of these categories: Remunerative directorship, Regular remunerated activity, Shareholding of controlling nature, Paid consultancy or Professional engagement. 
     
    But the report has found 124 (58.2 per cent) MPs have not provided any detail about financial interest under any of these five categories.
     
    Twenty four MPs (11.3 per cent) have declared that they have some financial interest in the form of Remunerative Directorship of a company. 
     
    The highest amount received for Remunerative Directorship has been declared by D. Kupendra Reddy (JD(S) Karnataka) with a value of Rs 40.68 crore per annum followed by BJP's Rajeev Chandrasekhar with a value of Rs 7.03 crore and Abdul Wahab (IUML Kerala) with Rs 3.34 crore.
     
    Thirty MPs (14.1 per cent have declared that they have a financial interest in the form of Regular Remunerated Activity. The highest amount received from regular remunerated activity has been declared by BJP's Mahesh Poddar (Jharkhand) at Rs 3.18 crore per annum, followed by Mary Kom who is BJP Nominated, with Rs 2.50 crore per annum and Swapan Dasgupta (Nominated) with Rs 66.60 lakh as annual income from regular remunerated activity.
     
    Meanwhile, 44 (20.7 per cent) MPs have declared that they have financial interest in the form of shareholding of controlling nature. The highest amount of shareholdings of a controlling nature in companies have been declared by BJP's Ravindra Kishore Sinha from Bihar, with a value of Rs 747 crore followed by Congress's Abhishek Manu Singhvi with a value of Rs 386 crore and Independent MP Kakde Sanjay Dattatraya with a value of Rs 262 crore.
     
    But only a mere 2 MPs which constitutes 0.9 per cent have declared that they have financial interest in the form of Paid consultancy. The highest value of benefits derived for all paid consultancy has been declared by Senior Advocate K. T. S. Tulsi with Rs 27.50 lakhs, followed by Vikas Haribhau Mahatme with 5.60 lakhs. While Tulsi is a nominated MP, Mahatme is from BJP.
     
    As much as 40 (18.8 per cent) Rajya Sabha members have declared that they have financial interest in the form of professional engagement. The top 3 in this category are all lawyers. The highest amount received has been declared by Congress's Abhishek Manu Singhvi with total fees received from professional engagements at Rs 177 crore, followed by P. Chidambaram and Tulsi.
     
    Interestingly, there's as much as 104 MPs in the upper house with total assets worth more than Rs 1 crore, yet they have no financial interests, claims their declarations.
     
    The top four are T. Subbarami Reddy of Congress with Rs 422.44 crore of total assets followed by TDP's C.M. Ramesh with 258.20 crore. Then comes former Finance Minister late Arun Jaitley with Rs 111.42 crore and Ambika Soni with Rs 105.82 crore of total assets.
     
    But under each category, a significant MPs haven't even declared their assets. What's even more shocking is that, there are 17 members of Rajya Sabha who have not at all submitted the declaration of their pecuniary interest, under any category, whatsoever. 
     
    The names include Misha Bharti of RJD, Dola Sen of Trinamool Congress, Mahendra Prasad of JDU, Rajmani Patel of Congress and Rakesh Sinha of the BJP among others. What's troubling is that leaders from cutting across party lines have defied.
     
    Speaking to IANS, Maj. Gen. Anil Verma (Retd), who heads the ADR, expressed concern at this culture of hiding truth. 
     
    "Of course it is a matter of concern as far as transparency goes. We are trying to convince the current Speaker why it is so important for him to intervene. We urged the previous Speaker as well but to no avail", said Gen Verma.
     
    Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.
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    COMMENTS

    Vaidya Dattatraya Vasudeo

    5 days ago

    PM has suggested that those who are financially well and do not need gas subsidy should give it up. Great and highly ethical idea. Should it be extended, automatically, to every elected person and every government employee, for every kind of subsidy, including that of cheap canteen fares, free travel, free phones and many many more which experts and knowledgeable person can make a list of? Should they not give up on the salaries too, including the PM. But it is very rare that this community recognizes ethics. Why not make a law to withdraw all and every kind of subsidy to any person who earns an income of Rs.10,00,000/- and above.

    REPLY

    B. Yerram Raju

    In Reply to Vaidya Dattatraya Vasudeo 3 days ago

    I fully agree. Parliament should pass a Law that no Parliamentarian, no Bank official, no permanent official and employee shall be eligible for any type of subsidy or incentive from the Government. There shall be no privilege of travel by Business Class at Government expense.

    Ram

    5 days ago

    Do they need salary at least those who are earning crores outside and have networth in hundreds of crores, more so they came to serve the people and not to make money from the people.

    TIHARwale

    6 days ago

    Rakesh Sinha will fill once he is free from endless TV talk shows

    Goldman Sachs sacks India VP Ashwini Jhunjunwala for Rs38 crore fraud

    Financial services firm Goldman Sachs sacked India vice-president Ashwini Jhunjunwala after his arrest for allegedly transferring Rs38 crore ($5.4 million) from the company's account to his personal accounts online to pay off debts incurred in a poker game.

    "The employee (Jhunjunwala) has been immediately dismissed. We are also engaged with the authorities (police) to activate criminal proceedings," the company told IANS in an e-mail.

    The police arrested Jhunjunwala under section 420 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) on a complaint by the company's Indian subsidiary for reportedly siphoning off funds fraudulently.

    "Jhunjunwala has been sent to 14-day judicial custody by a local court for investigation into the cheating case," Marathahalli Circle Inspector S.P. Girish told IANS.

    According to preliminary investigation, Jhunjunwala, who was looking after the company's forex and equity settlement claims, transferred the money online from his colleagues' computers over the months to avoid detection.

    "The vice-president's modus operandi in stealing the company's money was to access the finance manager's account when the latter was away from the workstation and transfer the amounts online to his accounts in India and overseas. He was caught recently (on September 4) doing such transactions from another colleague's computer," Bengaluru East Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) M.N. Anucheth told IANS.

    The accused was caught on the basis of video footage from the closed circuit television cameras (CCTVs) in the company's office, which showed the executive using others workstations.

    "The transactions timings tallied with that of the videos, which recorded and showed the executive using computers of his associates for committing the fraud," Girish said.

    In a complaint to the police, the company's legal counsel accused Jhunjhunwala of trying to make up for the losses he incurred in the online gambling. One of the accounts in which the money was transferred was traced to be a shell company (Synergy Wisdom Ltd) in Hong Kong in which he had invested.

    "When confronted with video clip of the crime, the accused tried to wriggle out by saying he was only evaluating his colleagues performance on their computers," the DCP said.

    Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.
  • User

    COMMENTS

    Arumugaraja A

    4 days ago

    What\'s the use of fancy degrees and experience in working with top financial firm, if you don\'t know the basic fact that all online transactions leave a trail.

    Ramesh Poapt

    6 days ago

    GS is not holy cow!

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