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Thursday, April 09, 2009

NSE Stockbrokers on the run

Handful of Stockbrokers Spotted Miles from Somali Border

Garissa, Thursday In light of the impending crackdown by the Micah Cheserem led Capital Markets Authority (CMA) and the declining index, owners, managers and staff of the remaining Nairobi Stack Exchange (NSE) stockbrokerage firms disappeared from the city bourse on Monday. Reports indicate that they are headed for the Somali border. They robbed motorists, pedestrians and hapless farmers along the way, and asked them to seek compensation from the Discount Securities receiver managers, Francis Thuo and Nyaga compensation fund.

Calling themselves the Stock Market Defence Force (SMDF), the stockbrokers were first spotted Monday night crossing Chania River in Thika, after they traded each of the towns 1,000 plus kiosks by borrowing from the kiosk owners and selling their stock. By late Tuesday morning, the SMDF had arbitrarily inflated each of the kiosks’ accounts, and declared a good return on the sale of the kiosk stock.

By afternoon, the financial militiamen had reached Meru town, transferred its miraa trade to a unit trust and sent a bill to the Ministry of Agriculture for KShs 89 million. Police officers on patrol and ‘high’ miraa traders watched helplessly as the SMDF went about its business.

"The police would like to reassure the general public that we are looking for the SMDF financial militiamen and they will face the law once we catch them,” said police spokesman Eric Kiraithe, “they even hide in commercial banks, we’ve been searching for them all morning. If we don’t catch them by late evening, we will have to issue a shoot to kill order against them and send in the military.”

Reached on phone for comment, Jimnah Mbaru, the self-styled commander of the SMDF laughed off the threat by the police. “We have far more sophisticated weapons than the police,” said Jimnah. “We have share certificates and registers, CDS accounts and even a semi-automatic NSE Wide Area Network.”

The police however intimated that they expected to have some level of success in the coming days by preying on a common stockbroker weakness. "We will disguise a policewoman as a KTN or NTV news host, or another local celebrity and see," said Mr. Kiraithe. "She will be irresistible to the SMDF and its leadership."

In addition to the police manhunt that has crippled business and normal life in Central, Eastern and parts of North Eastern Provinces, teams of CID officers have been using high-powered listening devices to scan the plains around Mount Kenya for telltale sounds of the SMDF. "Most of the time we just hear leaves rustling or someone munching miraa," said Kiraithe, "but occasionally we'll pick up someone saying, 'I was very lucky to get out of Nairobi on time, the CMA were coming.'"

While some SMDF stragglers are believed to have successfully crossed into Somalia, Kiraithe said the bulk of the SMDF militiamen and its leadership are currently holed up in guest houses in Garissa town.