A Kenyan man in Minneapolis, United States, pleaded guilty to involvement in the Sh31 million ($250 million) fraud scheme that diverted funds disbursed under the Federal Child Nutrition Program to feed needy children during the Covid pandemic.
Appearing before a U.S. District Court on Tuesday, Liban Yasin Alishire pleaded guilty to exploiting a federally-funded child nutrition program during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Alishire, 43, of Brooklyn Park, enrolled Community Enhancement Services and Lake Street Kitchen, organizations he helped operate, in the Federal Child Nutrition Program as purported sites providing meals to underprivileged children under the sponsorship of Feeding Our Future.
Alishire admits that after enrolling in the Federal Child Nutrition Program, he began submitting fraudulent claims for reimbursement for serving meals to hundreds or thousands of children a day.
He falsified invoices to document the purchase of food, and the preparation and submission of falsified attendance rosters purporting to document the names of children who received meals.
Investigations by the FBI, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, and the Postal Inspection Service found that Alishire also operated a distribution company, Ace Distribution Services, that purported to provide meals to be served to children at the Community Enhancement Services site.
In total, Community Enhancement Services claimed to have served over 800,000 meals between February and October 2021, and Lake Street Kitchen claimed to have served over 70,000 meals between December 2020 and April 2021.
However, Community Enhancement Services and Lake Street Kitchen in reality served a fraction of the meal amounts claimed.
Based on the fraudulent claims, Community Enhancement Services and Lake Street Kitchen received more than a million dollars in Federal Child Nutrition Program funds from their sponsor entity, Feeding Our Future.
Alishire then transferred this money to himself and others via shell companies used to receive and launder the proceeds of the fraud scheme.
Court documents show that Hoodo Properties was one such shell company.
On November 22, 2021, he wired Sh27 million from the company to Jaafar Jelle & Co. towards the purchase of the Karibu Palms Resort in Diani Beach.
In total, Alishire fraudulently claimed approximately Sh301 million in Federal Child Nutrition Program funds.
Of this, Feeding Our Future paid out Sh222 million to Alishire and his co-conspirators.
His co-conspirators included Abdiaziz Shafii Farah, Mohamed Jama Ismail, Mohamed Ibrahim, Abdimajid Mohamed Nur, Said Shaffi Farah, Abdiwahab Maalim Aftin, Mukhtar Mohammed Shariff, Hayat Mohamed Nur, Ahmed Yasi and Khadar Jigre Adan.
They were based in Minnesota.
The suspects are believed to have opened at least 30 sites using shell companies.
Abdiaziz Shafii Farah and Abdiwahab Maalim Aftin had also invested fraud money in Kenya.
The two used two companies, Empire Enterprises and Bushra Wholesalers, to wire money to Capital View Properties Limited based in Nairobi.
Overall, Alishire obtained Sh86 million ($712,084.00) in fraud proceeds for himself and the entities he controlled.
He pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of money laundering.
He will forfeit a boat and trailer, a Ford F150 pickup truck, an apartment unit in Nairobi and the Karibu Palms Resort.
Alishire also agreed to a Sh88 million forfeiture money judgment.
He is set to be sentenced on a date to be announced at a later time.