Ukweli Wa Mambo: “VIP Shipping International” Is A Fake Company

When the “Kinyua container” scandal first  broke out over the week-end, the general line of thought was that VIP Shipping company that was at the centre of the scandal and a Mr. Kristian who was allegedly subcontracted by the Kenyan Embassy in Stockholm to ferry the container of diplomat Kinyua to Canada were acting in concert.

According to fresh details, VIP Shipping Company is a fraudulent Company that has fleeced numerous customers of goods and money running into millions of kronors. Mr. Kristian, whose full names are Kristian Vendelbo, is the brain box behind the chain of fraud using the Company which claims to have its headquarters in London with non existent branches spread across the world.

In reality, the address given by the company of their office in London does not exist while another address given by the company in Denmark – Diplomvej 381, 2800 Lyngby, does not exist either.

At a Danish website, 1.000 Dannish kr is being offered to anybody who can give police information that could lead to the capture of Mr. Kristian who is wanted in that country for a series of fraudulent transactions that have left many Danes miserable after they lost goods in containers. Kristian is said to drive a red Volvo with registration number VY 53 282.

The Kenyan Embassy fell into Kristian’s trap because the Lady diplomats at the Embassy swallowed, bait, hook and sinker, the con man’s key strategy – a considerably low price on container transport – in a shady transaction that smells of kick-backs and under the table dealings before the operation went sour, ending in Mr. Kinyua hanging on the verge of losing his entire private property that constituted his entire house-hold in Stockholm.

In April this year, Markus, a Swedish national, fell victim to Kristian’s tricks when he was moving from the United States to Sweden after completing his studies. He packed his personal effects in a container (including a car) and wired Mr. Per Nygren, his father, to link up with a Company that could help with container transport.

The father took contact with VIP Shipping through a fake office in Denmark but when the son arrived in Sweden, the container could not be released by CMA-CGM, the third largest container handling company in Göteborg, because Kristian had not paid up. By the time the container was released, the bill had reached 32,000 kr with extra storage charges being responsible for the price increase.

If Mr. Kinyua is lucky, his container could be lying somewhere but it may have to be paid for a fresh (including payment for storage charges when the container remained stranded). If Kristian did not sub contract any company to transport the container then simply failed to pay the company, Mr. Kinyua runs the risk of losing everything.

The modus operandi of Kristian is that he offers a very low price, subcontracts another company to do the job then fails to pay the company which, in turn, fails to release the container. The customer is then left to sort out the mess.

In another case, a Ugandan family linked to a diplomat who was working at the Ugandan Embassy in Denmark had to pay 200.000 kr (2 million Kenyan shillings) to a container company in Mombasa to help them get their goods after Kristian tricked them.

The Embassy had hired Kristian’s VIP Shipping International which subcontracted another company to do the job. Kristian was paid 94.500 kr by the Ugandan but instead of finishing the transaction by paying the Mombasa company, he simply disappeared. The diplomat had to hire a lawyer to help him trace the container while he lost cash paid to Kristian besides the Ksh 2 million extra expenses.

Then came the case of Samanta Dominquez, an Argentine diplomat, who was moving back to Brazil after her tour of duty came to an end. She took contact with VIP Shipping through Kristian but three months after she arrived in Argentina, her property had not arrived yet. She reported the matter to police and eventually hired another company to trace her cargo which she received at long last.

In the case of Karen Bygdhal Andreasen, her property was supposed to be transported from Antwerp, Belgium to Sao Paolo in Brazil so she took contact with Kristian Vendelbo and his VIP Shipping International. Kristian promised Karen that her goods would be in Sao Paolo in November 2006 but by September 2007, her goods had not arrived neither could she trace the container, forcing her to report Kristian to police.

Mark Lesurf, another victim, paid VIP Shipping 13.000 kr through Kristian who promised to move his goods from the United States to Copenhagen but the goods were never delivered.

An Opera musician called Ingeborg Børch who had been residing in London for 4 years, wanted her personal effects moved to Denmark so she took contact with VIP Shipping through an advertisment. Among her personal effects were her concert instruments. Kristian gave her an attractive discount that was too irresistable – 23.000 kr for the job. Three months later, her goods had not arrived at their destination although Kristian continued to assure her that the goods were on the way. On 30th July last year, she reported Kristian to police.

Kristian is a known conman who operates several fake companies to evade detection. VIP Shipping is just one of his numerous shell companies. Others are: VIP-Ship, A-1 Relocation, A-1 Relocations, VIP-Møbeltrafik, VIP Flytteservice, VIP International Shipping Systems, Shipping for Diplomats, Ship4diplomats, Intership-diplomat, IntershipVIP, Ship4expats, House of Shipping and a company called Relocation.

The Embassy should take responsibility in the case of the missing container of Mr. George  Kinyua because before contracting a company to supply services on behalf of the government, it is the responsibility of Embassy staff in charge to apply the principles of ”competative bidding” as provided for in the ”Public Procurement Act of 2001” which deals with identification and award of contracts to various suppliers.

In the absence of competative bidding, the Embassy cannot acertain how the contract sums were determined and accepted by the government as faire and competative.

Any supplier of goods or services to the government of Kenya must be subjected to ”dilligence tests” as per the Public Procurement Act to establish the supplier’s competence, capacity and capability to deliver the goods or services in the contracts.

This appears not to have been done when Mr. Kristian was engaged by the Embassy and given Kristian’s history of fraud and subterfuge, any officer at the Embassy who was involved in the contract should take responsibility.

If Kinyua’s container is still packed somewhere, it will take extra government funds to recover it while in case it got lost, it is safe to assume that VIP Shipping has no insurence because it is a fake company. The question that will arise is who will foot the bill if Kinyua has to be compensated. Is it the Tax payer or responsible Embassy employees who violated the law and hired a fake company? There is no room for “We never knew” unless Kenya has become a banana Republic. Could Ambassador Purity Muhindi please give the Kenyan public an explanation?

Okoth Osewe