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Court hands Sh16 billion gold scam suspects temporary freedom

Two men implicated in a Sh15.9 billion fake gold scam have been released on a cash bail of Sh500,000 each by the court pending the conclusion of investigations by the police.

Nicholas Otieno Ndolo and Thomas Otieno Ngoe were granted bond by Kibera Senior principal magistrate Charles Mwaniki, who declined a request by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to detain them for 14 days.

The magistrate observed that bail is a constitutional right and there were no compelling reasons to detain the two suspects.

In the detention application, DCI claimed the pair received a sum of USD 1 million (Sh129,470,000) from the complainant, who is a foreigner and whose identity was withheld by the DCI.

Court papers indicate the complainant sought to purchase 3,000 kilograms of gold at US dollars 41,000 per kilogram totaling to US dollars 123 million (Sh15,924,810,000).

Police investigator Alexander Makomah in his affidavit told the court that the complainant in the transaction was introduced to Mr Ndolo as a businessman dealing in gold business.

After formal introductions, they agreed that the complaint would purchase the gold and Mr Ndolo provided an Equity Bank account in the name of Africorp Consultants Limited as the transaction account for the business.

“The complainant later instructed his bank in United States of America to wire the sum of USD 1 million on February 10, 2023 by way of a swift bank transfer into the Equity Bank account. Mr Ndolo confirmed to have received the money and would then contact the complainant to witness the packaging of the gold in readiness for shipment to Dubai,” said the investigator.

He added that the complainant waited in vain for an appointment to witness the packaging of the precious gem but it never came forth. This prompted him to request for documentation in regard to the purchase of the said gold.

The complainant later realized that some of the documents such as the customs entry indicated on the declaration from dated March 8, 2023 were not genuine.

“Mr Ndolo started to avoiding the complainant and later threatened him with deportation from Kenya. This prompted the complainant to make a report to DCI operations support unit which report was then booked at Capitol Hill Police Station vide OB No.29/11/03/2023,” said the investigator.

Upon investigations at Equity Bank, the officer said that the account was being operated by Mr Ngoe and that the whole amount had been transfer to other accounts.

Mr Ngoe was arrested and a firearm recovered. Mr Ndolo surrendered to the DCI headquarters, where he was subsequently arrested for interrogation.

In seeking to detain the suspects longer, the investigator said the firearm was believed to have been used to commit crimes and was subject for further forensic analysis. He also wanted to establish how it was acquired by Mr Ngoe.

Mr Makomah said the investigations are not complete and the investigators intend to recover the monies allegedly defraud from the foreigner and recover documents that the suspects used as instruments in committing the alleged offences and subject them to forensic analysis.

He added that the investigators were yet to record statements from witnesses, conduct an identification parade, subject the firearm to forensic analysis and ascertain whether Mr Ngoe is a licensed firearm holder.

The suspects urged court to free them on bond pledging to cooperate with the police to complete the investigations. The matter will be mentioned on April 3, 2023 for further directions.

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