Goldenscape Founder and CEO Peter Wangai, the man who has been on the run after failing to pay investors in his agribusiness, has come to the end of the road.
On Thursday night, detectives from the Serious Crime Unit arrested Mr Wangai in Nairobi after hunting for him for more than three weeks.
The CEO went underground on March 2 when he shut down his offices in Nairobi’s Central Business District and Lower Kabete.
“Mr Wangai, through his company, lured investors to invest in greenhouses that were to be set up in Ol Kalou, Nyahururu and other places which turned out to be a fraudulent investment deal,” the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) said.
“He will be charged with the offence of obtaining money by false pretences, conspiracy to defraud, false representation, issuing bad cheques among other charges.”
Detectives have been looking for Mr Wangai after more than 80 investors with dashed hopes recorded statements at the DCI headquarters on Kiambu Road.
The men and women who were expecting to reap millions of shillings from their investments accused the CEO and Goldenscape of failing to meet their contractual obligations.
In its promise, Goldenscape assured investors who pumped Sh320,000 into its farming business of Sh550,000 return after six months.
The investors’ pain started in December 2019 when the company failed to pay them, blaming the lack of money on “bad weather conditions”.
It should be noted that crop cultivation in greenhouses is done under irrigation and prevailing weather conditions do not have a big impact in yields.
On March 12, DCI detectives raided Goldenscape in Karen, Nairobi, but did not find the CEO.
They rounded up five staff and took them to Kiambu Road for questioning.
During the raid, the officers also confiscated documents and carted away 10 desktop computers and records detailing the phantom investments.
Mr Wangai’s arrest could be the beginning of justice for dozens of Kenyans who lost their money in what is turning out to be one of the biggest ponzi schemes in the agribusiness sector.
With an alluring smile, Mr Wangai inspired confidence in the investors, promising them quick returns on their capital.
He even allayed fears of possible loss of money, saying:
‘‘People who get their [riches] through [unjust] ways are always punished. Their generations are cursed.’’
‘‘We’re creating jobs for the youth. We’ve created jobs for 3,000 people across the country.’’
In November last year, Mr Wangai, whose name loosely translates to “of God”, told investors that he was expanding into the neighbouring Somalia.
Furthermore, plans to set up base in Sierra Leone and Uganda were well underway, he said.
It’s these attractive ‘‘fortunes’’ and sharp ‘‘growth’’ that were fuelling ‘‘negative energy’’ on social media, according to Mr Wangai.
He blamed the criticism on bloggers ‘‘out to enrich themselves’’ and his former employees who had been expelled ‘‘for gross misconduct’’.
‘‘We’re a company that fears God. That’s why God is opening doors for us,’’ Mr Wangai claimed.