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IT expert Alex Mutungi Mutuku a 28 year old man has been charged with hacking Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) which he denies. He did not plead to the charge because cybercrime officers asked that he be detained to allow them conduct their investigation and arrest oth involved party.
The crime the kenyan government involves expatriates from the US and other countries, along with police officers and government workers.
Other agencies affected by the hacking include the e-citizen online payment portal where users pay for government services.
A lawyer for Mr Mutuku, Tacey Makori, has asked for him to be released, arguing that police had failed to show enough evidence to warrant an extended detention. He is being held while anti-cybercrime officers dig deeper into what they believe is an elaborate fraud scheme with international connections.
According to Edwin Okello the State Prosecutor, the hackers have advanced tech equipment and software that have enabled them to steal from corporation, including Kenya Revenue Authority, where the police was able to track the syndicate after it fraudulently acquired $39 million.
Mr Okello sad, “It is a case of remote control hacking where the suspects operate smoothly with their machines and the next minute you realise you have no money in your account. The information we have is just a tip of the iceberg. The racket is big and involves people outside the country”.
Okello pleaded with the magistrate to allow detectives to detain the suspect for 40 days, arguing that he is a flight risk and has been visiting several countries, to where he is likely to escape if released on bail. “His passport shows that he is a person who is able to walk in and out of Tanzania at will and has been visiting Uganda, Burundi, and India. He is a frequent traveller outside the country, which makes him likely to abscond court if released on bail,” said Okello.
The cybercrime unit says Kenya lost $165m (£132m) through hacking in 2016. Earlier this month, several people including foreign nationals were arrested in Nairobi over their involvement in theft of funds through hacking. Chief magistrate Francis Andayi ordered Mr Mutuku to be detained until March 28.
Ten suspects have so far been charged in court.