Police in Nairobi have launched investigations into smuggled gold with a street value of $138 million (Sh14 billion). The haul is believed to have been smuggled from North Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo through Burundi.
According to a source who sought anonymity, the gold which weighs 4.6 tonnes, arrived in Kenya in February, with the hope of being legitimised before being sold to foreign markets as a product of Kenya, but the process seems to be taking long to the disappointment of the dealers.
It is believed the person behind the smuggling is a multi-millionaire based in Dubai, but has close ties with some leaders in Congo and Kenya.
The suspect, whose multi-million-shilling business empire was boosted by supplying of military equipment and construction materials in different countries and is believed to have visited Kenya on several occasions, is using four well-connected Congolese nationals in Kenya, to help him smuggle gold out of mineral-rich Congo.
According to the source, the four recently managed to smuggle Sh3 billion gold to Hong Kong through Kenya but have been finding it hard to offset the 4.6-tonne consignment.
“The guy is colluding and working with some well organised Congelese in Kenya, they are four. Initially, he had consulted a local agent who is believed to be facilitating the smuggling,” said the source.
“It is believed the Dubai-based suspect could be financing some rebel activities in Congo in exchange for gold and military equipment. Previous investigations by the Joseph Kabila-government showed he had contact with Bosco Ntaganda and General John Tshibangu,” added the source.
This could be the biggest consignment of gold to be smuggled in the country ever. In 2011, about 2.5 tonnes of gold with a street value of Sh8 billion was smuggled in the country from DR Congo, forcing President Kabila fly to Kenya for emergency talks with the then President Kibaki.