Podcast

Episode 447: The Con Man Who Took Down His Own Country (Then Ran For Office)

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22 min 14 sec
 
Kamlesh Pattni, the man behind one of the biggest financial scams in Kenya's history, ran for office earlier this month. i i

Kamlesh Pattni, the man behind one of the biggest financial scams in Kenya's history, ran for office earlier this month. Julia Simon hide caption

itoggle caption Julia Simon
Kamlesh Pattni, the man behind one of the biggest financial scams in Kenya's history, ran for office earlier this month.

Kamlesh Pattni, the man behind one of the biggest financial scams in Kenya's history, ran for office earlier this month.

Julia Simon

A few years back, the Kenyan government wanted to encourage exports. So the government said to local businesses: For every $100 of stuff you sell to someone outside Kenya, we'll give you Kenyan shillings worth another $20.

A con artist saw an opportunity. He launched a company that exported nonexistent gold for nonexistent dollars, and collected a real government bonus. Then, when he was about to get caught, he started his own bank. That's when the scam really took off.

On today's show: How one guy pulled off one of the largest financial scams in Kenyan history, avoided prison, re-branded himself as a man of God, and ran for a seat in parliament.

Music: Jaguar's "Kigeugeu." Find us: Twitter/ Facebook/ Spotify/ Tumblr. Download the Planet Money iPhone App.

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