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DCI officers fly to Dubai to record Ali Zandi statement

Director of Criminal investigations George Kinoti in his office at DCI headquarters during an interview.Image: /MONICA MWANGI

By Star

Leaked audio pus Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula at the heart of the multi-million shilling fake gold scandal, making the Ford Kenya Leader a person of interest.

In Summary
• Mbadi says Ruto wing was never happy with Matiang’i elevation.
• Nyoro says Matiang’i removal will come to pass.
Director of Criminal investigations George Kinoti in his office at DCI headquarters during an interview.

Officers from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations are set to fly out to Dubai on Tuesday night to record a statement from the representative of the United Arab Emirates’ ruler about the Sh400 million gold scam.

The investigators will interrogate Ali Zandi, a representative of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

Zandi also represents the Zlivia Company, a gold trading company based in Dubai. Its missing gold is reported to have been seized at JKIA in transit from the DRC to Dubai.

Zandi conducts business on behalf of Sheik Maktoum and has been in Kenya several times to follow up on his cargo, having paid millions of shilling for a first consignment.

Nothing was delivered.

Maktoum complained to President Uhuru Kenyatta that his gold had been seized and detained at JKIA for months on its way to Dubai from DR Congo.

When the President investigated, he learned that there was no such gold and ordered the crackdown on those involved.

The investigators have stepped up their work after Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji ordered Inspector General Hillary Mutyiambai to investigate reports that a group of Kenyans may have conned Al Maktoum out of millions of shillings.

The police have until Wednesday next week to hand over their findings to Haji.

While in Dubai, the investigators will try to obtain all possible evidence that may include audio, documents, pictures and video footage to help convict those involved.

Once they have the statement from Zandi, the police will summon those mentioned to record their own statements before charges are drawn up and possible arrests made.

Leaked audio put Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula at the heart of the fake gold scandal, making the Ford Kenya leader a person of interest.

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.

The usually vocal senator has been silent on the issue. He has not been replying to repeated text messages or returning calls.

Deputy President William Ruto has defended President Kenyatta and asked those involved to leave the President’s name out of the scam.

“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,” the Deputy President said.

“These people who are political conmen turned business conmen should carry their cross alone,” Ruto said in Endebes in Trans Nzoia on Saturday.

The police have also identified Zaheer Jhanda as a person of interest in the conning of Maktoum. Jhanda has denied the claims and insisted that his role was limited to ensuring that Zandi paid all government taxes before the gold was exported.

“The gold is still in DR Congo. I will go to the DCI but who is the complainant?” he asked in an interview over the weekend.

Investigators said Jhanda is said to have initiated the transaction that involved an impersonator of CS Fred Matiang’i and a group of people both in and outside government.

“The group has infiltrated the government and they have their protectors in the system,” a police officer probing the issue said.

Little is known about Jhanda, the flashy 40-year-old man being investigated. His children go to the most expensive international schools and he has been pictured talking to leaders including President Kenyatta, Deputy President William Ruto, ODM leader Raila Odinga and Wiper Leader Kalonzo Musyoka.

The drama around the multi-billion gold scandal escalated on Monday with House Minority leader John Mbadi claiming Ruto is using the scam to nail Interior CS Fred Matiang’i. He has been given expanded powers rivalling those of the DP.

Mbadi claimed Ruto has already directed two MPs — one from South Rift and the other from Murang’a county — to draft a censure motion to drive the CS out of office.

According to the Suba South legislator, Ruto has never been comfortable since President Kenyatta gave Matiang’i additional responsibilities, putting Interior CS at the centre of the Jubilee administration.

In January this year, Uhuru elevated Matiang’i giving him supervisory roles across government, a development many viewed as an attempt to whittle down DP Ruto’s influence.

Matiang’ i, in the January’s Executive Order No. 1 of 2019, was made the head of the crucial National Development Implementation and Communication Cabinet Committee. He reports directly to President Kenyatta.

“The issue of gold is being used as an excuse. Since Matiang’i was given added responsibilities the DP has been very unhappy,” Mbadi said.

“I have information that two nondescript MPs are being used to draft an impeachment motion against Matiang’i. As a leader of the minority, we know their schemes and we will deal with them accordingly.”

Even without naming names, Mbadi did not leave any doubt that he was referring to Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro and his Belgut counterpart Nelson Koech.
Speaking Star on phone, Nyoro appeared to confirm that there was a plan to remove the powerful Interior CS.

“I neither deny nor confirm. Kuiva itaiva tu [it will just come to pass]…Whatever is there in the fullness of time it will be out,” he said when asked whether he harbours plans to impeach Matiang’i.

He dismissed claims, however, that they are being used by Ruto, adding that Mbadi is the least qualified person to know what each MP is planning.

“If anything myself or Koech or any other MP do, it is not upon Mbadi to say who sends who. Jubilee is not like ODM where you have to jump the highest when the leader orders,” Ndindi said on phone.

The two MPs, Mbadi noted, have already collected the requisite 88 signatures to accompany the censure motion to be presented to the Speaker.

Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei — another of DP Ruto’s close allies — said Mbadi is diverting attention after realising that his party leader Raila Odinga is deeply implicated in the scandal.

“Mbadi should not divert attention, he should advise his party leader that the Sheikh has said he wants gold or the money — those are the only options on the table,” Cherargei said.

The Star has established that the forces behind the censure motion are hoping to use reports that GSU officers were deployed to guard gold scammers to bring down CS Matiang’i.

Over the weekend, Ruto’s ally and Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa fired the first salvo indicating the team is going full throttle against the Interior CS.

“How can you use the General Service Unit to safeguard the home of those involved in the criminal activity?” she asked on Saturday.

Ruto and Matiang’i have not been seeing eye-to-eye and Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho has also been drawn in.

Last week, it is said that Ruto read the riot act to Kibicho at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport where the security bosses had gone to receive President Uhuru Kenyatta who had travelled to Rwanda.

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