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

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

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

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

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/175382519/175419797" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

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

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Julia Simon

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.