Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula is under investigation in a Sh400 million gold scandal involving a faceless cartel that swindled the United Arab Emirates royal family.
The National Super Alliance co-principal is said to be among six people being probed over the racket that has provoked a protest to Kenya by the Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and ruler of the Emirate of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
Said to be at the centre of the investigation is extortion of millions of shillings ostensibly to secure release of five tonnes of gold alleged to have been seized at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).
The supposed seizure was allegedly the first tranche of a 23-tonne shipment of gold that was to be brought from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Investigations by law enforcement agencies show Wetang’ula flew to Dubai to convince the royal family he would use his connections to have the said consignment released.
A prominent politician and a businessman operating a private jet leasing company based at Wilson Airport are the other suspects implicated in the racket.
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.
The big-time racketeers are said to have undertaken to deliver 4.6 tonnes of gold from Ndande Tribe in the DRC. According to the investigations, the consignment was to be moved by road via Uganda. And for them to deliver the gold haul, they group reportedly needed financial facilitation.
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.
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 Wetang’ula’s help.
On December 15, 2018, Wetang’ula is believed to have flown to Dubai on Zandi’s invitation for a meeting during which the senator 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 were unsuccessful.
The plot thickened when Wetang’ula and Zandi’s other Kenyan contacts took him to JKIA where he was shown sealed boxes purported to contain the gold. It has since emerged that that the extortionists include top government officials who facilitate the movements of their victims to the secure section at JKIA, where they have leased space for their dodgy fraudulent activities.
On January 21, this year, Zandi, who was still in the country, was moved to another hotel to meet a purported senior government official who would facilitate the release of the priceless consignment.
It was then that an imposter masquerading as a powerful cabinet secretary, 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, assuring him that the gold would be released before he flew back to Dubai a month later, with the purported gold never coming by. Investigators say there was no such gold at JKIA in the first place.
As things stand now, the royal family of Sheikh Maktoum has made a petition in writing to the Kenyan authorities to complain about the scam and demanded action against those behind it.
In the letter addressed to Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i, 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 infamous dusitD2 terror attack.
Nevertheless, the letter says in part, “we need your immediate and strong actionto release the totality of Zlivia Gold shipment to UEA as soon as possible and accordingly to the instructions by our General Manager Mr Zandi who is there in Kenya to organise the shipment.”
Two people have since been arraigned in a Nairobi court over the suspected fraud.
Russian national Yulian Stankov and Mohammed Rashi, who are wanted for transnational crime, were arraigned before the Milimani Law Courts last Friday on suspicion of obtaining money through false pretences.
The new development has seen the raise the red flag over rising cases where foreigners are conned out of their money by fraudsters with fake gold bars.
More recently, officers from the special crimes unit raided a house in Kileleshwa under a 24-hour guard of the General Service Unit (GSU). The residential facility is believed to be the criminal outfit’s hideout.