The case involving Sheikh al-Makhtoum’s associate is just the most recent case of foreign nationals who have been scammed in gold deals in Kenya and Uganda.
In the past few months, more than 40 suspected gold scammers have been arrested in Nairobi alone. Other than Kenyans, those arrested include Bulgarians, Tanzanians, Rwandans, Nigerians and Congolese.
Another link among them has been a tendency to live in Kilimani, an upmarket part of Nairobi.
In Nairobi, a Russian national was scammed out of more than KShs20m ($198,000).
Behind the scene, our police informer tells us of a bevvy of beautiful women in Nairobi who accompany their male counterparts in the trade which involes millions of shillings.
Crackdowns by criminal investigators in Nairobi since last year have netted gold nuggets, fake gold and different fake currencies.
They are mostly young men who live large and chronicle their exploits on Instagram. In Kenya, they leverage their money to build political clout, which goes a long way into helping them get out of trouble.
For example, in Kenya, Sharon Akinyi (Adhiambo) Ngoe is married to a lawyer, often named in fake gold syndicates by the name Tom Ngoe, said to be an accomplice of Jared Otieno Kaisa, one man who has perfected the trade of fake gold in the country.
Ngoe is said to have been operating in the country as a lawyer, though police officers have said he does not have the prerequisite certifications. Prior to that, he run a firm in Eldoret, which he closed and left the Rift valley town in a huff after a business deal that went badly
Like many other suspected gold scammers, Sharon created a high-profile public persona that involves vast amounts of money, political contacts and political ambitions. He unsuccessfully ran for a parliamentary seat in 2013 and 2017.
When Jared Otieno, was arrested last year, police made a point of noting that they had also towed away a Porsche and a new Bentley from a home he had recently bought for cash.
One of the other people listed as under investigation in the scandal was recently released from a five-year sentence in Tanzania, where he pleaded guilty to money laundering charges.
The crackdown on gold cartels in Nairobi brings into focus how attempts to clean the trade in conflict minerals are failing. The amounts involved also suggest Kenya’s financial system is still a conduit for extensive money laundering.
In 2011, then presidents Joseph Kabila (DRC) and Mwai Kibaki (Kenya) held an emergency meeting in Nairobi about a specific gold consignment that had been smuggled from the DRC. A senior official at the Kenya Revenue Authority had been assassinated because of the same gold shipment, which was never found.
Sharon is mentioned in many circles as being at the heart of the heist that happened in Nairobi put her at the heart of it all. However, many people believe that her political connections and wide networks within the Kenyan government helped her out of the mess.
Sharon was previously connected to a former Kenyan politician Tom Obondo, a ruling party Kanu before her marriage to Ngoe. She must have used that connection to get close to the powers in the country. And she used her connections well.
According to our police source investigating a recent heist n the country, informer tell them of a wealthy lady with connections in all spheres of society, including a palatial home in Nairobi’s Lavington area and hospitality
Then there is Pauline Adhiambo Odok alias Rose Omamo, who has reportedly been on the run since May last year, was nabbed at Ololua, Dam Estate.
According to detectives, the suspect runs her operations by masquerading as a senior government official’s relative in order to earn the trust of her victims.
She is said to have convinced Southorn Chanthavong, a director of Simong Group Company based in Lao, that she was in a position to sell him gold.
Pauline allegedly, together with other accomplices who have since been charged, lured Chanthavong to an office in Kaputei gardens, Kileleshwa, where they showed him genuine gold bars in heavy metal boxes and immediately struck a deal.
The sleuths stated that – between May 8, 2019 to May 25, 2019 – a few more meetings took place during which the victim paid Ksh.300 million for the consignment of gold on the promise that it would be delivered to his home country in Lao.