Kenya: Fake Gold Saga Probe Zeroes in on Six Names

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

Detectives were last evening narrowing down to six suspected masterminds of the fake gold scandal involving the Dubai royal family that appears to have taken a political dimension.

Multiple sources said the detectives intend to summon the six to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) in the course of the week to shed light on the scandal which has sucked in big names.

OFFICIAL TRIP

The six include Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang'ula, and flamboyant politician Zaheer Jhanda. Others are a controversial politician who has served a jail term in a foreign country, the owner of an aviation company, a loud suspected frausdster who has in the past been accused of misusing his firearm and a spouse of one of the suspects. We cannot name some of the suspects at this stage for legal reasons.

The six, according to multiple sources privy to the investigations, are believed to be at the heart of the ongoing investigations and depending on what detectives establish, may face charges in court relating to the matter.

The DCI boss George Kinoti is on record stating that Mr Wetang'ula was a person of interest and would be required to record a statement on the scandal. The Sunday Nation established that Mr Wetangula was on an official trip in Hong Kong with a Senate committee.

Senate Speaker Ken Lusaka confirmed that Mr Wetangula was among a group of senators on the trip and is expected back in the country at the end of the week.

One suspect, according to the detectives, he is wanted for his alleged role in the scandal relating to impersonating Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i.

SH400 MILLION

Mr Jhanda on his part is wanted for questioning on the alleged role his company played in the whole deal. He is one of the persons whose names were mentioned in a leaked audio tape discussing the release of the Sh400 million gold haul. A woman who is linked to the company is also said to have been involved in the transaction, including travelling to Dubai.

The owner of the aviation company is wanted in connection to a plane he purportedly owns whose details were used in the alleged con game.

Mr Jhanda on Friday told the Sunday Nation that he would present himself before the detectives even though he had not been summoned over the matter.

"Nobody has called me. The DCI has not summoned me. I've heard my name mentioned and as a law abiding citizen, I will go to see the DCI," he said.

In a statement released last night, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Noordin Haji condemned the release and circulation of the audio tape as "alarmist and likely to cause disaffection".

He said he had received complaints from some of those whose names were dropped in the conversation captured on the tape, revealing how one of the personalities captured in the clip has been invoking President Kenyatta's name in his shady dealings.

"I have personally received a complaint and representation from victims of the scam claiming that the personality has been dealing with them for some time now and invoking the President's name in their dealings and conversations," noted Mr Haji.

DIRTY DEALS

He said he had thus directed the Inspector General of Police to fast track the investigations into the gold scandal and forward the file to him within seven days for appropriate action.

As expected, the matter took a political turn yesterday after Deputy President William Ruto challenged opposition leaders to shed light on claims that they tried to intercede in the matter by reaching out to President Uhuru Kenyatta. He was referring to a leaked tape purportedly having Mr Wetang'ula telling the alleged con victim from Dubai that he would contact the President and ODM leader Raila Odinga.

"I tell our brothers in the opposition not to import their bad habits to Jubilee; they should shun engaging in dirty deals, corruption and conning others," said the Deputy President in Endebess constituency where he had gone to inspect development projects.

Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu who accompanied Dr Ruto also questioned the integrity of the opposition leaders.

Mr Odinga could not be reached for his side of the story as he is out of the country.

His spokesman Denis Onyango told Sunday Nation that Mr Odinga was in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to meet the country's president Felix Tshisekedi.

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."

While in Endebess, Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa called on Dr Matiang'i to step aside over his alleged role in the scandal.

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