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Is Speaker Moses Wetangula On Wanted List And Banned From Flying UAE Airline Over Links To Gold Scam?

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Rumor mill has been abuzz lately following gossip published on Daily Nation that a senior government official linked to a major scamming scandal.

“A senior government official – who not long ago was in the thick of a major scamming scandal – is having trouble discharging duties of his big office. The man cannot travel to certain countries as he is wanted for immediate arrest. A major airline in one of the Asian countries has also blacklisted him from flying with them over the alleged criminal record. The man is said to be worried how he will discharge his duties with the arrest orders hanging over his head. He had in the recent past told his cronies how his new office will facilitate him in a globetrotting spree.”  the Daily Nation’s column read.

While many have been guessing that it is the National Assembly’s speaker Moses Wetangula following his links to alleged gold scam that put him on the spotlight, there has not been any official or public announcement in this respect of the speaker being on a wanted list and being banned from flying United Arabs Emirates flights.

Unlike his equals in the government, Wetangula has not been traveling abroad as much. He only visited Algeria recently since joining office in September last year.

The Scam

On April 27, 2019 in the United Arab Emirates, ex-President Uhuru Kenyatta reportedly met with the Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) who is the emir (ruler) of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

The Emir is said to have raised concerns about problems he was having with his gold consignment that was to be airlifted through Nairobi.

The Emir is reported to have produced an audio recording that was replayed to Uhuru purportedly in a conversation between the Royal family’s representative and a Kenyan contact.

The recording is believed to be the same one that was leaked online at the weekend, and which prompted a statement from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Noordin Haji directing the police to investigate the audio clip titled “Wetang’ula exposed in fake gold scam,” apparently referring to Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula.

Raila Odinga is also said to have been present in the Dubai meeting. The leaders were returning from a summit in China.

Raila and Uhuru had stopped over in Dubai for a weekend-long meeting on their way from Beijing, where they had attended the Belt and Roads Forum, a signature project for Chinese President Xi Jinping to connect Africa, Asia and Europe, officials said.

Taken in circles

During the meeting, the Dubai ruler is said to have shared with Uhuru the audio that captured a conversation between his nephew Ali Zandi and the Kenyan contact, and also explained how they had been taken in circles in Nairobi over the gold consignment that was to be trucked from DRC Congo and flown out via Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

The Sheikh had been told by their Kenyan contacts the gold consignment had been seized at JKIA, but authorities say the Dubai ruler was conned as there was no such cargo.

It would appear Sheikh Maktoum had decided to raise the matter personally with Uhuru because it had been three months since he had lodged a protest with then Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i over the gold consignment allegedly seized at JKIA.

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In the January 20, 2019 letter, the Sheikh had requested immediate action regarding the shipment of gold under “our company’s name Zlivia, which is being retained by your authorities in Kenya.”

The Sheikh had acknowledged that he understood the delay “was caused by the last terrorist attack in your country” apparently referring to the dusitD2 terror attack on January 15.

“Nevertheless, now we need your immediate and strong action to release the totality of Zlivia Gold shipment to UAE as soon as possible and according to the instructions by our General Manager Mr Zandi, who is there in Kenya to organise the shipment.”

“It is quite urgent to solve this issue the earliest,” the letter by the Dubai ruler had read.

Zandi flew to Nairobi on the eve of Christmas Day 2018 and was still in Kenya by the time the Sheikh wrote to Dr Matiang’i to try to trace the gold haul from Ndande Tribe in DRC Congo since it had been three months since the deal was sealed with the Kenyan contacts.

The Scheme

The scheme started on September 25, 2018, when the group approached Zandi, who represents Zlivia Company, a gold trading company based in Dubai. They had said they would deliver 4.6 tonnes of gold.

Zandi had been in Kenya for almost a month and left sometime in February that year, without the precious cargo. Having reached a dead end, it would appear the Sheikh saw an opportunity in Uhuru’s stopover in Dubai to seek his intervention.

On returning back to the country, Uhuru reportedly summoned his security bosses and played the audio to them.

Among those present in the meeting were Matiang’i, National Intelligence Service boss Maj Gen Philip Kameru,former Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai and ex-Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho.

The leaked audio put Moses Wetang’ula at the heart of the multi-million shilling fake gold scandal.

In the audio conversation, Wetang’ula dropped the names of President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition chief Raila Odinga to assure a Dubai gold investor believed to be Ali Zandi that their detained consignment would be released.

Wetang’ula assured Zandi, a business associate of United Arab Emirates ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, that he had talked to Raila who in turn reached out to Uhuru to secure the release of the pricey containers.

“I am a hundred per cent sure there is no problem and tell Sheikh not to panic. We are finishing this matter and we will come and toast together,” Wetang’ula assured Zandi.

The conversation begins with an angry Zandi telling Wetangula that the Sheikh had run out of patience, yet the players including Wetang’ula himself had pocketed their share to facilitate the release of the gold.

From the conversation, it also emerges that flamboyant businessman Zaheer Jhanda claimed to have been picked as a representative of “Interior CS Fred Matiang’i”.

“He [fake Matiangi] took the money, you [Wetang’ula] took the money. What else are you talking about?” an angry Zandi asked.

It is unclear, however, how much money Wetang’ula allegedly received as he is overheard disputing in the audio an undisclosed figure sent to him.

“We will have to sit down and discuss this issue of money because the amount of money I have seen is not the amount of money you are talking about,” Wetang’ula says.

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In an ironical twist, Wetang’ula dropped Raila’s name, yet he was blasting the Opposition leader as a despot who allegedly orchestrated his removal as Senate Minority leader.

“The manner in which Raila runs his party (ODM) is like a Gestapo, nothing happens without his concession… and he tried extending those dictatorial tendencies into the coalition (Nasa), of being very intolerant to others’ opinion and being very impatient when someone is explaining something,” Wetang’ula once said of Raila.

However, in this conversation about gold, Wetang’ula paints Raila as a man of influence, who had the President’s ear.

Wetang’ula: “How are you?”

Zandi: “Not very good. I don’t know how to answer you.”

Wetang’ula: “No, something is happening?”

Zandi: “What is going on?”

Wetang’ ula: “Raila met with the head of state on this matter and explained to him and the head of state has called the minister concerned [Interior CS Fred Matiang’i] and he is seeing him tomorrow. He is my neighbour and I have seen him this morning and he has told me the head of state has been away in Mauritius for a week. He will see him tomorrow and he says hopefully before the end of the week, we will be able to settle this matter once and for all.”

At this point, according to the audio, a pessimistic Zandi asks Wetang’ula why he is roping in other players, yet Matiang’i was allegedly in control.

Zandi: “Why are you bringing in other people?”

Wetang’ula: “Let me tell you what is happening. Since Raila brought this matter to the attention of the boss [Uhuru], let him also go and explain to him what has been done so far, then he will communicate to you.”

Wetang’ula assures Zandi that the Raila and Uhuru meeting will undoubtedly unlock the stalemate and allow the gold consignment to be airlifted to Dubai.

Zandi: “Who will communicate it to me?”

Wetang’ula: “Through either Raila’s people or through Zaheer [Jhanda] to send your vessel to come and pick the items. So it is okay.”

From the beginning, Zandi had warned Wetang’ula, he of the “noisy and messy divorce” that the gold matter could turn catastrophic if not well handled.

“Believe me, any movement will be a disaster for all of you and myself included,” he warned.

Uhuru expressed concerns over the con games in the country for which JKIA is used as the operational base. He then demanded immediate action.

That order apparently triggered the police operation that saw the arrests of more than a dozen people and discovery of fake gold in Kileleshwa, Nairobi.

The operation saw the arrest of businessman Jared Otieno, who was detained over claims he swindled a man from Laos Sh300 million on the pretence he would supply him with gold.

Other officials said the saga was first brought to the attention of president Uhuru in early April 2019 by Raila. This was after Raila flew to Dubai and met Sheikh Marktoum, who reportedly asked for his intervention to have the said gold weighing 4.6 tonnes released from JKIA.

During the meeting at a hotel in Dubai, a Kenyan who has been mentioned in the saga was introduced to Raila as the one who was supposed to supply the said gold from DRC, but the commodity was detained at JKIA.

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The Kenyan man was embarrassed when he called a man purporting to be Matiang’i on the phone only for Raila to declare the person on the other end was not the CS.

“He put the phone on a loudspeaker and when Raila heard the voice of the other party, he intervened and declared it was not the CS. This ended the conversation,” said an official aware of the issue.

It was at that point that Raila is said to have told the Dubai ruler they had been swindled and promised to raise the matter with the Kenyan officials. Raila is said to have flown back to Kenya and met the President and other security officials, and informed them of the saga.

Mr Haji  at the time said he had personally received a complaint from victims of the scam claiming that the personality had been dealing with them for some time and invoking the then President’s name in their dealings.

Preliminary investigation revealed that the scheme started on September 25, 2018, when the group approached Zandi.

The group reportedly used known gold dealers, including a Russian national, to state that there was a huge amount of gold in DRC ready for movement to Dubai.

On September 27, the Kenyans said the gold had been detained by customs officials at JKIA.

According to the police, this prompted Zandi to call Wetangula for help.

On December 15, the then senator flew to Dubai on the invitation of Zandi, for a meeting, during which he assured them he would help secure the release of the gold.

However, Zandi declined the demands for cash to facilitate the release and instead flew to Kenya on December 24.

His efforts to meet senior Kenyan Government officials were unsuccessful. Instead, the Kenyan contacts took him to JKIA, where he was shown sealed boxes purportedly containing the gold.

Apparently, the extortion ring includes some Government officials who facilitate the movement of their victims to the secure section at JKIA, where they have leased space for their fraudulent businesses.

On January 21, 2019 Zandi, who was still in the country, was moved to another hotel to meet a “senior Government official”, who would facilitate the release of the precious cargo.

Senior official

Those behind the scheme organised imposters, one masquerading as a powerful Cabinet secretary, who they drove at night in two four-wheel drive cars to the hotel in Karen.

Zandi is said to have met the Government official in his car. The official apparently assured that the gold would be released. He flew back to Dubai after a month. But the said gold never got to Dubai.

Police say no such gold was held at the airport.

The ruler of the United Arab Emirates Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. [Photo: Courtesy]

Frustrated, Sheikh Maktoum wrote to Kenya to complain about the scam and demanded action on those behind it.

The “seizure” was supposedly the first tranche of a 23-tonne gold consignment that was to be brought from the DRC.

Police investigations show the senator flew to Dubai to convince the royal family he would use his connections to have the said gold released.


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