At least five lawyers are under investigation for involvement in transactions in which several people, most of them foreigners, lost billions of shillings in fraudulent deals.
The Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) launched the probe after receiving complaints from Kenyans and foreigners who lost money, even after they were assured by the lawyers that the deals were above board.
The probe comes against the backdrop of yet another fake gold scam unearthed by detectives in Kileleshwa, Nairobi.
During Monday raid at an office in Kaputei Gardens, off Othaya Road, 15 people were arrested and a consignment of fake gold recovered.
One of the cases pending in court involves city lawyer Thomas Otieno Ngoe of TO & Associates Legal Consultants.
Ngoe was involved in a case where Mertroglu Muhammet, a German, was allegedly defrauded of Sh27 million in a fake gold deal.
But yesterday, the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) chairman Allen Gichohi said Ngoe was not on its register and was, therefore, not authorised to practise in Kenya.
Besides his name not appearing on LSK’s list, Ngoe does not have a P105 number that is allocated to every lawyer in Kenya.
A check at the LSK’s records revealed that Ngoe’s law firms (Ngoe & Associates Legal Consultants and TO & Associates Legal Consultants) were not registered by LSK.
Samir Munyinyi was charged with obtaining the cash from the German between March 28 and April 12, last year at Wiyu Plaza on pretext of selling him 360kg of gold.
Ngoe reportedly received the money on behalf of Munyinyi. He held the cash in dollars in an escrow account before releasing it to the accused.
In one of the documents seen by The Informer, a client issued a directive that USD700,000 (Sh70million) be paid to lawyer Ngoe’s USD account number 1183792026 held at the Kenya Commercial Bank.
Munzala Javier Rumili is another lawyer who has also been charged in a case involving a Brazilian who was defrauded of Sh23 million. Rumili is the former assistant legal manager at the Diamond Trust Bank.
Some of the lawyers under investigations have been accused of drafting forged documents.
In one of the deals, a supplier who introduced himself as Steve Okothe, bearer of ID number 10215492, with the help of another lawyer presented a letter dated September 26, 2016, purported to have been signed by a Joram Wambua Katweo for the Commissioner of Mines and Geology.
“The sample weighing 21.1835g was analysed and found to be gold of 98.13 per cent, equivalent to 23.56 karat,” the letter stated.
It was later established that the letter was fake.
A lawyer was also involved in another case in which a Russian lost Sh22 million in a dubious gold-buying scam that involves unscrupulous clearing agents at JKIA.
Vladimir Borisenko was allegedly defrauded by five fraudsters working in cahoots with a city businessman who contested for a parliamentary seat and lost. Another lawyer was also involved in the fraud.
Some of the rogue lawyers involved in the scam are believed not to have been admitted to the bar in Kenya.
The “lawyers”, whose intentions may not be to practise law, are also believed to be involved in money laundering, fake land deals and general brokering, which allows them to afford lavish lifestyles.
The Monday raid in Kileleshwa followed undercover investigations after the DCI boss George Kinoti directed a crackdown on the dealers following numerous complaints from traders.
Besides the fake fold, the team headed by the head of Serious Crime at DCI headquarters Obadia Kuria and Kilimani DCIO Fatuma Hadi, also confiscated eight luxury vehicles, that were found in the compound.
Kinoti yesterday said the operation would be sustained until all the people behind the scams are brought to book.
“The gold scams have now reached alarming levels as foreigners are being swindled large amounts of money,” he said.
Recently, the vice president and Prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, and ruler of the Emirate of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, wrote to the Government of Kenya to protest what they said was a gold deal scadal where they lost Sh400 million.
This triggered the ongoing operation. Kinoti has revealed that the fraudsters had even leased premises at the JKIA and were using unscrupulous government officials to facilitate their movements at the airports and government offices.