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Suspects in fake gold scandal walk free as controversy deepens

Tuesday May 21 2019

Zaheer Merhali Jhanda

Zaheer Merhali Jhanda poses with bunches of cash. He has been roped into the fake gold trade. PHOTO | COURTESY 

VINCENT ACHUKA
By VINCENT ACHUKA
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DAVID MWERE
By DAVID MWERE
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Individuals linked to the gold syndicate in which a member of the United Arab Emirates royal family was conned of Sh400 million continue to walk free, as the controversy surrounding the matter intensifies.

With revelation that the victim of the con game, Mr Ali Zandi, says he will take nothing less than the gold he paid for, there are fears that the situation could result in a diplomatic tiff.

STATEMENT

Mr Zandi is the nephew of Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Emir (ruler) of the UAE.

Reports that the Emir had personally sought the intervention of President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga raised the stakes on the scandal.

However, despite the President having been made aware of the matter a month ago by a fellow head of a state, Kenyans are yet to see any arrests and prosecution of suspects. Politician Zaheer Jhanda, who has been identified as having played a key role in the scam, did not present himself to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) as he had promised during a recent interview on NTV.

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“Nobody has called me. The DCI has not summoned me. I’ve heard my name mentioned and as a law-abiding citizen of this nation, I’ll go to see the DCI,” he said on Saturday, adding: “I’ll present myself and I’m ready to be questioned. I’ll go myself and talk to them and shed any kind of light they’d want me to shed,” he said.

By Monday, however, Jhanda was yet to be summoned as were the rest of the players in the scandal, who have since gone underground. None of the five other people linked to the scandal have recorded statements.

Meanwhile, it emerged that Jhanda’s wife, Alice Moraa, could also be called for questioning by the police. She is listed as Jhanda’s representative in one of the articles of association related to her husband’s company ZMJ limited.

The Director of Criminal Investigation, Mr George Kinoti, had Monday promised to issue a statement on the matter.

Sources from the DCI headquarters told the Nation that Mr Kinoti had been briefed on the key people under investigation and was supposed to sermon them publicly for questioning.

IMPERSONATING

The scandal has caused a political storm after an audio recording of a conversation believed to be between Mr Zandi and a Kenyan politician was leaked to the public.

In the recording, the politician informs the Sheikh that Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga would seek President Kenyatta’s help to have him order the release of the consignment of gold alleged to have been seized by Kenyan authorities.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i is also mentioned, with the politician saying the gold had been seized by the CS in his official capacity.

Dr Matiangi, while speaking to the Sunday Nation on Friday, said: “You don’t expect me to respond to whether fraudsters mentioned my name in what is an active investigation.”

Police are looking for a suspect accused of impersonating Dr Matiang’i.

Leaders in the two political camps (Kieleweke and Tanga Tanga) have been trading accusations over the scandal, with those in Tanga Tanga, allied to Deputy President William Ruto challenging Mr Odinga to come clean on the matter.

On Monday, ODM chairman John Mbadi accused Mr Ruto’s allies of targeting Dr Matiang’i for removal from office over his alleged link to the scandal.