How Gold smuggled in Kenya and DRC

Investigative journalist Dennis Onsarigo penned down how the gold scammers do their business and swindle unsuspecting businessmen out of millions of shillings without being traced.

How Gold is smuggled in Kenya and DRC? How are fake gold scams propagated in Kenya, and why do they target Qatar, the UAE, US, and UK? How is gold money washed?

"Gold smuggling," which had taken a break for some time, is now back! When I met the family of Joseph Cheptarus, a CID officer investigating the smuggling of 2.5 tonnes of gold with an estimated value of Sh9 billion, or US $113 million, the widow was shell-shocked. With a very young family, the killing of her husband had dealt her a major blow.

The husband had stumbled upon crucial leads into the smuggling of the "Kabila gold" and had just finished briefing his boss at CID headquarters; he was trailed and shot dead that very night. The police were quick to say his killing was a normal robbery.

How Gold smuggled in Kenya and DRC

This is how they scammed people.

The gold scammers had penetrated the criminal justice system; they had a godown at JKIA under GSU guard. Unsuspecting gold dealers would be driven straight from the airport to the warehouse and shown real gold before being ushered into a top lawyer’s office in the CBD.

After doing the paperwork, they are then driven to somewhere on Ngong Road, where they will be ushered into a gold smelting factory complete with customs officials and geology officials from the government, among other make-believe employees busy working in the factory.

Here is the catch: the scammers are not fast in asking for all the amount; they ask for 50% of the payment as they prepare the "shipment" of the gold.

The scammers will ask that you allow the law firm to hold the rest of the cash in trust in an escrow account. This is a very convincing move by the scammers; it lowers your suspicion after all; this is a reputable law firm. Crooked customs officials will then "kick start" the process of "exporting" the gold on behalf of the unsuspecting gold buyers.

Armed with the necessary paperwork, the unsuspecting gold buyers will fly out of the country to await the arrival of their gold, which the scammers insist is safe to be flown as cargo. At the point of destination, what the unsuspecting buyers will receive is not gold but yellow or goldish tri-circle padlocks smelted and packaged as gold bars.

How Gold smuggled in Kenya and DRC

An attempt to get back into the country will see the gold buyers threatened with engaging in gold smuggling, which is illegal in Kenya and the DRC because Kenya doesn’t mine gold anyway! Two American ladies sold their company in the US, came to Kenya with Ksh 300 million, and lost it two days later in the complex web of gold scammers.

This gold-swindling gang is now back, but it’s deeply rooted. Those arrested are quickly arraigned in court, allowed to wear their masks one year after masks were rendered unnecessary, slapped with comfortable bail, and off they go for another round of scamming.

How is gold money washed? Wash Wash business

People highly doubt there has been a major conviction of gold scammers in this country. Everyone knows how the game is played and how quickly the money is washed (laundered) (the salons and parlours, new apartments, sudden rise in exotic nightclubs and restaurants, car bazaars with high-end motor vehicles that are rarely sold, etc.).

The players understand one rule: if you scam, you get scammed as well, and if you are unlucky in the scamming, you will be shot dead, thrown down a building to your death, or get poisoned. DRC president Joseph Kabila scrambled a presidential jet to Nairobi in the hunt for his 2.5 tonnes of gold with an estimated value of Sh9 billion, or US $113 million, which he was certain was in Nairobi on transit, but by the time he got here, the gold was gone.

They made him sound ridiculous. Stunned, he flew back home. Certain high-ranking officials had conned his country's hard-earned gold, and those he came to seek help from believed he had his facts wrong because the CID wouldn’t lie to the president, right? Kenya is a great country. It is what it is.


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