Russian man conned over Sh20 million in fake gold deal at JKIA

[Photo: Courtesy]

A Russian man has lost more than Sh20 million in a dubious gold-buying scam that involves crooks at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).

Vladimir Borisenko, 41, claims he lost the cash to five fraudsters working in cahoots with a controversial city businessman who contested for a parliamentary seat but lost.

The money was paid in instalments of USD 62,800 (Sh6, 342,800), USD 132,600 (Sh13, 392,600) and USD 7,000 (Sh707, 000), being clearance fee for 100 kilos of gold.

The Russian was introduced to the fraudsters by his Kenyan business partner, 29-year-old Michael Mung’ore Amesa, the director of Schiller Group Limited. Vladimir and Michael met in Seychelles, where the Kenyan worked as a manager at Hotel Tamasa, while the Russian ran a brewery business.

Amesa returned to Kenya, starting Schiller Group that deals in gemstones and minerals. He invited Borisenko to help him start the business. The Russian loaned Amesa Sh10 million as starting capital.

On December 12, Amesa and his sales representative identified as Jamila Twalib, met one Mohammed at a prestigious five-star hotel in Nairobi, who, the following day, linked them to Amisi Bin Ramazani, a Congolese national who claimed he had a huge amount of gold stored at JKIA.

“He told me that he had gold that was under customs department that was being held pending payment of customs duty. Being the first big transaction, we got into a written agreement for 20 kilogrammes of gold. This was done in the presence of my lawyer Fernardos Ombaso at my offices in Westlands,” Amesa says in his statement made at Kilimani Police Station.

[Photo: Courtesy]

Fatma Kalima was introduced as an agent of Ramazani. The woman said she worked for Alsalatin Group Limited, which was to prepare the necessary documents and process the shipping of the gold to Hong Kong. Alsalatin Group received USD 62,800 through a bank transfer from Schiller Group, being payment for 20 kilos of gold. Ramazani in turn issued a safekeeping receipt, which indicated the gold was under the custody of Priority One Security Limited.

After that, one Abdul Karimu Murenzi, a Congolese, came into the picture. He introduced himself as one of the directors of Isiro Mining Group. He purported to own the whole consignment of 100 kilos. It is at this point that Ramazani became elusive, and stopped picking calls or honouring appointments.

“Ramazani told me that his visa had expired and would like to travel to Congo to regularise his immigration papers. I gave him US dollars 500 (Sh50, 000) as a soft loan,” says Amesa. Fatma meanwhile failed to meet the deadline of shipping the 20 kilos of gold. When Borisenko confronted her, Fatma claimed the 20 kilos could not be separated from the whole 100 kilos and advised Schiller Group to purchase the whole consignment.

“Schiller Group was forced to enter into discussion with Karimu for the purchase of the whole 100 kilos, which led to signing of a new contract dated December 21 and USD 132,600 paid in cash to Alsalatin Group,” recounts Borisenko. Alsalatin Group in turn committed to completing documentation in three days.

A collateral agreement was signed, granting Schiller Group possession of five kilos of gold to be held as security for the money paid. On the day the consignment was supposed to be ready, the Russian and his Kenyan business partner were taken to the offices of a clearing and forwarding firm (name withheld) at JKIA. They were introduced to one Patrick who demanded the five kilos collateral, which was supposedly to be added to the main consignment.

They were issued with waybill tickets after payment of USD 7,000 being fee for clearance of the consignment. Fatma then vanished. Borisenko and Amesa camped at JKIA for two days, waiting for her to no avail. This was on December 25 and December 26.

[Photo: Courtesy]

“We realised we had been conned. We reported the matter at the DCI Airport who managed to arrest two suspects linked to the clearing firm, and Patrick. We were referred to Kilimani Police Station, where we lodged an official complaint via OB 68/11/01/2019,” says Amesa.

A male foreigner identified as Samir Munyinyi together with Karimu were arrested on January and taken to court in connection with the scam. They are out on cash bail as Borisenko fled the country following threats on his life.

A police officer based at Kilimani allegedly threatened Borisenko. The officer, in the company of other people known to him, forcefully took Sh190, 000 from him.

Kilimani DCIO Fatuma Hadi said the matter was under investigation.

“Right now we are focusing on the terrorist attack at Dusit, I will respond next week please,” promised Fatuma.

Borisenko has hired Trimo Security, a private investigations firm, to help him recover his money and trace the suspects involved. Paul Otieno Odida, an employee of the firm, was assaulted by one officer at Kilimani when he went to check on the progress of the matter.

“Borisenko left the country fearing for his own safety. The police officer is among those people who threatened to kill him if he continued staying in the country. He advised us to conduct parallel investigations after losing faith in the police,” says Trimo boss Jane Mugo.