Police close in on fake gold dealer
Kenyan detectives are drawing closer to arresting an international fake gold scammer Andre Ishikunga Kongolo alias Joseph Kimo for swindling several foreign investors.
Kongolo, who has all along been conducting his trade in Kenya and Uganda using a false name, Joseph Kimo, is a citizen of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) but is believed to have recently acquired a Kenyan citizenship through his wife’s political connections and deep pockets. The wife hails from Migori county.
Kongolo, who has several criminal cases is known to move around with flashy cars and operates from posh hotels to cut an image of a genuine gold dealer.
“We already know that no one exists by the name Joseph Kimo. These gold scammers are very smart and slippery, they rarely leave any traces after pouncing on their targets, but we are zeroing in on some few,” said a senior detective who sought anonymity.
In September 2019, Kongolo reportedly defrauded a Ukrainian businessman out of nearly Sh1 billion, leaving him stranded in Nairobi for several days.
Hennadii Kovalenko had travelled to East Africa three years ago to buy 350 kilogrammes of gold using his savings and borrowed money, according to a local daily newspaper.
In pursuit of what promised to be a profitable gold business, he landed in Uganda to buy 350kgs of gold from the DRC at a reduced price of $27,000 per kilo, which translate to $9,459,000 (about Sh945 million then).
Kovalenko had already found a buyer for his gold and expected to earn a profit of at least $4 million after all expenses – including freight, commissions, warehousing and taxes. Several months after he spent his money to buy gold, the foreigner got stuck in Kenya after realising that he was a victim of fake gold fraudsters.
He reported the matter to the police and shared details of the Kenyan logistics company that received his cargo for shipment to Dubai. However, only junior employees were arrested and charged with attempted fraud, while the company’s senior officials remained at large.
Authorities said they only recovered fake gold when they raided Afrisolutions Limited offices, Kongolo’s firm in Nairobi. Speaking to journalists in 2019, Kovalenko insisted that the consignment delivered from Uganda was genuine gold, saying that he personally tested it at the Department of Mining laboratory in Nairobi, where it was confirmed to be 99 per cent pure. He even had the certificates to prove it.
The Ukrainian Embassy in Nairobi took up his case and has twice written to Kenya’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs seeking intervention.
In statements recorded with the police, Kovalenko indicated that his gold had in January 2018, on being ferried to Kenya from Uganda, entrusted to two individuals named Joseph Kimo, director of Afrisolutions Ltd.
On April 5, 2019, police arrested three Afrisolutions employees; Consolata Achieng Kwendete, Washington Libese and Enock Mungwana Okonda, described as a tea girl, a gardener and a caretaker.
The three were charged with intent to defraud, receiving in cash $1,059,000 from Kovalenko by falsely pretending that they were in a position to sell to him gold. The court was told that they committed the offenses together with others not before the court.
Kovalenko said Afrisolutions officials kept on demanding cash from him for clearance of his shipment, which they claimed was detained at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) by customs officers.