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FAKE GOLD

Why Dubai gold scam probe has stalled

Without a statement, there is no complainant, hence no case

In Summary

• Sheikh Maktoum is yet to give consent for statements to be taken.

• Zandi’s statement would have provided a basis to interrogate the Kenyans mentioned.

Gold bars
Gold bars

Investigations into the Sh400 million gold scam involving the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, have collapsed.

Officers from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations have been unable to proceed with the investigations because Sheikh Maktoum is yet to give consent for statements to be taken from those who dealt with the Kenyan scammers.

DCI officers were to record a statement from the representative of the United Arab Emirates' ruler Ali Zandi regarding the Sh400 million gold scam.

 
 

Zandi’s statement was critical in the investigations because it would have provided the basis to interrogate the Kenyan suspects.

Zandi manages a company called Zlivia, a gold trading company based in Dubai. Its missing gold was reported to have been seized at JKIA in transit from the DRC to Dubai, according to the Kenyans he dealt with.

“Without a statement, it means that there is no complainant. That means there is no case,” said a DCI officer aware of the developments in the case.

Kenya had written to the Sheik asking his administration to facilitate the recording of the statements but three weeks later there has not been any response.

Diplomatic sources in the UAE Embassy in Nairobi told the Star yesterday that the Sheik may have decided not to allow Zandi to record a statement to avoid too much negative publicity.

The sheikh, according to the source, will pursue other means in seeking to recover his millions. It is not clear what the other means will be.

On May 22, the UAE envoy to Kenya, Khalid Al Mualla, denied that the country's ruler lost Sh400 million to Kenyan fake gold scammers.

 
 
 

Al Mualla has termed as false reports that Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the UAE Vice President, Prime Minister, and ruler of the Emirate of Dubai was swindled out of millions in a fake gold deal involving Kenyans.

“I can’t tell you if he (Zandi) exists or not, but who is he? Can anyone show me proof that the gold was going to the ruler of Dubai? I have not seen such a thing and I think someone was working hard to damage relations between Kenya and Dubai, which are cordial,” he added.

The DCI officers planned to summon those mentioned to record their own statements before charges are drawn up and possible arrests made.

A leaked audio recording put Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang'ula at the heart of the fake gold scandal, making the Ford Kenya leader a person of interest. Wetang'ula dismissed the recording a none issue.

In the audio, Wetang'ula dropped the names of President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition chief Raila Odinga to assure a Dubai gold investor, believed to be Zandi, that their detained consignment would be released.

Meanwhile, a magistrate has allowed Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti two months to obtain a forensic report in relation to the fake gold case against businessman Jared Otieno and 14 others.

All the 15 accused have denied obtaining Sh300 million from a man from Laos, by falsely pretending that they would sell him gold.

When the case came up for mention before Milimani chief magistrate Francis Andayi, a senior prosecutor applied for more time to enable the investigating officer from DCI's office to obtain the forensic report from cybercrime relating to mobile phones and computers taken from the alleged Jared house No 12 in Kileleshwa during the police raid.

The magistrate granted the request and directed that the case be mentioned on August 14, for the purpose of confirming whether the prosecution is ready before fixing the hearing of the case.

A week ago, Andayi released all the accused on a bond, ranging from Sh300,000 to Sh1 million pending the hearing and determination of the case.

Before granting them bond, the magistrate said that since the accused were from different social backgrounds, a pre-report will assist him in arriving at fair bail terms for all the accused persons.

Otieno, together with Philip Aroko, Robert Ouko and Ricky Ochieng denied that between February 8 and February 25, 2019, at Kaputei Gardens, with intent to defraud, they obtained from Sounthorn Chanthavong, a director of Simoung Group Company US $3 million (about Sh300 million).

The other co-accused are Peter Omondi, Michael Ochieng, Paul Otieno, Alice Nzisa, Joyce Akinyi and Julie Kathambi as well as Seinim Boukar, Abuona Temoua and Albert Lokunda Lokole.

It is alleged that the pretended to be carrying out genuine gold business using fraudulent tricks and displaying heavy metal boxes parked with genuine gold bars and an office trading as Nirone Safe Keeping.

They were further accused of counterfeiting Ghana customs authority stickers’ trademarks, purporting them to be genuine.

It is said that some of the accused were gardeners, cleaners and cooks and persons of humble means and the amount mentioned in the charge sheet should not “blind” the court.

The court heard that between February 8 and 25, 2019 Chanthavong, a gold trader, was lured to house No. 12 at Kaputei Gardens in Nairobi’s Kileleshwa area and lost US$3 million, after being duped that the items he bought were genuine gold.

Three weeks ago, the police raided the house allegedly owned by Otieno and arrested 15 people in connection with the fraud. The 15 were produced in court and the police were allowed to detain them.