Monday, January 2, 2012

CID trails Congo gold scam suspect

President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga with the Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila at Harambee House office. President Kabila was in Nairobi on March 3,2011 to meet the two leaders over the smuggling of the Sh8 billion worth of gold. FILE / NATION.

President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga with the Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila at Harambee House office. President Kabila was in Nairobi on March 3,2011 to meet the two leaders over the smuggling of the Sh8 billion worth of gold. FILE / NATION. 

By NATION REPORTER newsdesk@ke.nationmedia.com

A Kenyan named in a United Nations report as a major player in gold smuggling is among six individuals the police want prosecuted in connection with a scam in which two Americans were conned of Sh100 million.

One of the suspects said to have played a role in the scam works in the Nairobi branch of a major international bank, but her role was not made clear by the detectives the Nation spoke to.

CID detectives are also investigating an account with the same bank operated by one of the suspects and which is believed to have been opened using fake documents.

The investigations were launched after an American identified as Samantha Simeons and her partner Barbar Rudd were defrauded of cash by the suspects.

The two said they were lured into a gold-buying deal via a website, www.butembocarriere.com.

Mr Rudd flew into Kenya in April 2011 and formally made a complaint and recorded a statement with the investigators.

Two Kenyans, Mr Joe Kirimi and Mr Paul Kobia, have been named in a UN report as key dealers in fake and smuggled gold from the DR Congo. (READ: Kenyans named in Congo gold scam)

They are said to run a gold refinery in Nairobi that is also used by all the main smugglers from the DRC.

Congolese rebel groups are believed to finance their activities through smuggling of gold and other precious minerals.

The smuggling of Congolese gold through Nairobi last year elicited increased attention from the DRC, with President Joseph Kabila personally making the trip to Nairobi.

He met President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga at Harambee House and was reported to have presented a list of the suspected major gold smugglers in the capital city. (READ: DRC's Kabila set for Kibaki talks over gold syndicate)

Different nationalities

According to the report released in December 2010, the individuals named on the list presented by President Kabila to President Kibaki in Nairobi on February 25, last year, are of different nationalities, with two identified only by a single name.

They are listed as Jojo Mandiki bin Luyeye,  Passy,  Mundeke Dako, Paluku Jeane Pierre, Yousouf (Cameroonian), Jean-Pierre, Jean-Claude, Lopez John, Mutindo Jean-Claude, Bwabwa Kazadi Evariste, Jerry Fumbula Kiala, Sumbu Robert Alias Roba, Kongolo alias Docta, Simon and Elisee Sofapaka.

Mr Kobia, says the UN report, is “a Kenyan national who is a prominent gold dealer in Nairobi, but carries a false Congolese passport under the name Ilunga Ngoy.”

Investigations showed that two firms known as Kavino Ltd and Havana Freight and Logistics Company Ltd were allegedly named as the companies that cleared the gold from the DRC to be taken to Miami in the United States.

The suspects are said to have duped Mr Rudd by giving him a Kenya Airways tracking number 706/22062526 claiming that the 1,155 kilogrammes of gold was to be delivered to a gold refinery in Miami, USA.

The 1,155 kg are reported to have been part of the 2.5 tonnes of gold stolen from the DRC, imported into Kenya illegally and part of it freighted to Dubai, said the detectives, who cannot be named as they are not allowed to speak to the press.

Investigators say they have a waybill — a document prepared by the shipping company — showing the description of the cargo, its owner and destination.

Architect of scheme

According to the detectives, the consignment was picked from the airport by two vehicles whose registration numbers have been given as KBK 390F and KBA 358Q, driven by a man whose government-issued Personal Identification Number they have.

Three men, among them the reported architect of the scheme, are also on the detectives’ list.

Detectives are also investigating another man who is said to have stolen a passport belonging to one Simon Makiese Ngizulu, a Kenyan pastor,  and used it in fraudulent activities.

The pastor had lodged a complaint at the CID headquarters. The release of the UN report is likely to increase pressure on the Kenyan Government to take action on the Kenyan entities involved in smuggling gold from the DRC.

The UN report says “Kenya did not officially import any gold from the Democratic Republic of the Congo during 2010/11, yet there have been transactions involving the precious metal.”

A firm known as Namukaya is reported to have declared that it exported gold to Pinnacle, in the Export Processing Zone in Nairobi, with the most recent shipment consisting of 8.6 kilogrammes, in April 2011.

“According to Zone officials, however, Pinnacle is not registered there. Kenyan customs statistics include only one transit shipment of gold jewellery in 2010,” says the report. 

The United Nations says that the men are in cahoots with three Kenyans, two of whom have also been charged in courts in Nairobi over illegal import of gold from the DRC.

advertisement