Editorials

Deal decisively with fake gold scammers in Nairobi

Andre Kongolo Tshikunga

Andre Kongolo Tshikunga when he appeared before the Milimani Law Courts on January 17, 2022. NMG PHOTO

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Summary

  • A Congolese national who has been reportedly on the run for four years was this week charged with defrauding a Ukrainian and a Japanese national of more than Sh680 million in a fake gold deal.
  • Andre Kongolo Tshikunga will remain in custody until he can raise a bond of Sh60 million.
  • His case adds to a growing list of alleged scams that continue to hurt Nairobi’s image among the major world cities.

A Congolese national who has been reportedly on the run for four years was this week charged with defrauding a Ukrainian and a Japanese national of more than Sh680 million in a fake gold deal.

Andre Kongolo Tshikunga will remain in custody until he can raise a bond of Sh60 million.

His case adds to a growing list of alleged scams that continue to hurt Nairobi’s image among the major world cities.

In September 2017, the Mining minister gave persons involved in the fake gold trade an ultimatum, warning that the government would deal with them ruthlessly.

This is after it emerged that rogue mineral dealers were issuing certificates purportedly issued by the Ministry of Mining to show that their gold, which is mostly fake, has been tested and graded.

The fraud, the ministry said, was being committed by persons passing with huge quantities of gold available at discounted prices.

Their victims have always been unsuspecting Kenyans and foreign nationals.

The criminals use false mineral dealers’ licences, export permits and assay reports purported to have been issued by the ministry.

Other common fraud cases involve demands of hefty upfront payments to facilitate the processing of export documents with relevant authorities, after which no export is done or the consignment turns out to be fake gold.

But the government is yet to follow through to punish the real masterminds, some of them politicians.

Kenya has struggled to recover from the Goldenberg scandal that saw some connected businessmen hatch a scheme to export gold and diamonds to companies in Dubai and Switzerland on an understanding that they would be paid export compensation. This ended badly after it emerged that it was a ploy to steal billions of shillings from the Kenyan taxpayer.

With such a past, one would expect that law enforcement officers would put in place stricter measures to ensure that the country and its borders are secured from con artists that continue to walk freely on the streets, as they scout for their next victim.