PD Team @PeopleDailyKe
It’s now official: Bungoma Senator Moses Wetangula was involved in the gold sale scandal that saw members of the United Arab Emirates royal family lose at least Sh250 million to fraudsters.
The Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti last evening disclosed that preliminary investigations had established that the Senator was actively involved in the scam that has gripped the country’s attention.
He said detectives are out to establish the extent and circumstances of Wetangula’s involvement, as investigations into the complex web of deceit and trickery continue.
“Our preliminary investigations have confirmed that the former Foreign Affairs minister was actively involved in the syndicate, and we would like to establish his role in the whole deal. We would like to know whether he was a victim or a complicit player,” Kinoti told People Daily by phone.
Also linked to the well knit syndicate is flamboyant politician Zaheer Jhandi, who vied for the Nyaribari Chache parliamentary seat in the last election and is believed to be connected to who-is-who in the country’s political circles.
Kinoti also confirmed that the fraudsters had impersonated Interior Cabinet secretary Fred Matiang’i’ in the process of sealing the fraudulent deal.
The DCI said the syndicate that involves sale of fake gold and exchange of fake currencies was “such an intricate web of cartels that operated an underworld economy parallel to the government one”.
“They are so daring that they operate as if there are no security systems in this country. They control billions of shillings from their underworld operations,” said Kinoti.
The DCI admitted that the cartel is so well-connected in both the political circles and security agencies, that few dare utter a word against it.
And as the crackdown on members of the cartel, who Kinoti said lead “an extravagant and affluent lifestyle” picks momentum, detectives are also targeting proceeds from their criminal activities.
By last evening, the DCI confirmed that detectives had identified a five-bedroom house in Nairobi’s Karen suburb and two cars — a Bentley and Porche.
Detectives developed an interest in the gold scandal about two weeks ago when the Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, and ruler of the Emirate of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum wrote to the Kenyan government to protest the loss of Sh250 million in gold business venture.
They linked Wetangula to the fake gold trade which is said to involve politicians and lawyers.
In the protest letter addressed to President Uhuru Kenyatta, Maktoum requests prompt action regarding the shipment of gold under his company’s name Zlivia, which was being retained by the Kenyan authorities.
In the letter, dated January 20, Sheikh Maktoum acknowledges he understands the delay was occasioned by the dusitD2 terror attack.
“We need your immediate and strong action to release the totality of Zlivia Gold shipment to UAE as soon as possible and accordingly to the instructions by our General Manager Zandi, who is there in Kenya to organise the shipment,” the letter reads in part.
Though Wetangula has maintained a deafening silence since the matter went viral on social media, his personal assistant Chris Mandu Mandu on Monday denied claims the Bungoma senator was involved in the scam saying he, too, was a victim.
“This was a business deal gone sour that is now being peddled around by his business partners, who also lost money in the business transaction. It is very unfortunate that some people are now trying to politicise the whole matter in which the Senator lost huge amounts of money,” Mandu told People Daily then.
He, however, said Wetangula was scheduled to issue a comprehensive statement on the whole matter on Tuesday or yesterday, which the Senator is yet to do.
Police investigations indicate the plot dates back to September 25, 2018, when the group approached Ali Zandi, a nephew of Sheikh Maktoum, representing Zlivia Company, a gold trading company based in Dubai.
It is said the fraudsters used well-known gold dealers who included a Russian national to claim there was a huge amount of gold in DRC ready for movement to Dubai.
The plot thickened when Wetangula and Zandi’s other Kenyan contacts took him to JKIA where he was shown sealed boxes purported to contain the gold.
Two days later, the suspected fraudsters alleged the gold had been detained by customs officials at JKIA. This prompted Massoud Zandi, a representative of the gold trading company, to seek Senator Wetangula’s help.
On December 15, 2018, some of the fraudsters are believed to have flown to Dubai on Zandi’s invitation for a meeting during which they assured them he would intervene to secure the release of the gold.
Zandi, however, turned down the demands for cash to facilitate the release and instead flew to Kenya on Christmas eve, where he made futile attempts to meet senior Kenyan government officials.
On January 21, this year, Zandi, who was still in the country, was moved to another hotel to meet a man the fraudsters claimed to be Matiang’i, who would facilitate the release of the consignment.
It was then that an imposter masquerading as the Interior CS, was driven at night in two top-of-the-range vehicles to the hotel located in Karen.
Police investigations show Zandi later met the “ government official” in his car, who assured him that the gold would be released before he flew back to Dubai a month later, with the purported gold never delivered.