Beach Bums

Beach Bums

Angelo Ricci, a member of Kenya's Italian community, listens as a Kenyan judge acquits him of any crime for having 2,500 pounds of cocaine in his beach resort cabin. (AP)
Don’t feel sorry for the harassed billionaires of the world; they’ve found a place to hide from those nasty journalists linking them to blood money, laundering and drugs: the incomparably beautiful beaches of Malindi, Kenya.

This summer Brian Dabbs writing for The Atlantic unmasked the Italian cartel in Malindi, Kenya, that uses “Eden” as a likely place to headquarter a global mafia increasingly on the run from Europe.

Ten days ago Silvio Berlusconi joined billionaire friend and equally maligned Flavio Briatore in Malindi, Kenya, where they remain today cloaked in a secret “billionaires retreat” with much younger women, and many believe this is a don convention to divvy up the Joker’s World.

They are “holidaying” at the Lion in the Sun Resort, owned by Briatore, and which TripAdvisor ranks as #6 of 17 resorts in Malindi. E-Travel calls it a HotSpot hotel. (No mention in either TripAdvisor or E-Travel about money laundering or the drug trade.)

Berlusconi is the deposed and disgraced former Italian prime minister and now convicted felon. Briatore has a longer list of accomplishments including conviction for fixing Formula 1 racing.

When Italian billionaires convene like this in Malindi (this is hardly the first time), the Kenyan Post newspaper puts out this clarion call: “Nairobi ladies, there is a cash cow in Malindi, better hurry up!”

Two things really bother me about this.

Most troubling is that while Italian mafia, drugs and global crime is not news for Malindi, it is growing worse just as Kenya is about to turn a new page next March with its first election under a new and fabulous constitution.

While I see an increasing transparency and honesty with Kenyan politicians as a whole, the crew in Malindi has been totally corrupted by the Italian criminals.

Dabbs interviewed several Kenyans, including the local police boss, who essentially confirmed that they turn a blind eye to all the criminal goings-on among the Italian billionaires. Even local judges have acquitted the cartel of cocaine trafficking that excellent Kenyan investigators had all but proved.

Add to this the growing political instability of the coast, where a new political force called the “MRC” (Mombasa Republican Counsel” is increasingly linked to terrorism and many warriors fleeing Somalia, and you have all the ingredients for mob reign.

And secondly, travel tools used by so many people are doing nothing but white washing this horrible situation. It’s an incredible travesty, from my point of view a crime of its own:

Online travel portals like TripAdvisor, E-Travel, Luxist and get this, Conde Nast’s OnLine Tatler awarded it the Best Life Changing Spa – Tatler Spa Award Winner 2010. You can say that, again. And you won’t find that link leading you to Conde Nast or Tatler, because they’ve since discharged their noble duty of killing that award without explaining why.

But I guess the occasional legitimate guest Lion in the Sun gets irritates Briatore, anyway. He’s building a new exclusive “billionaire’s condominium” in Malindi, claims that half the units are already sold and that “For this project, I will choose who will come here.”

I guess that won’t be any clients I have.