A Nyanza politician is set to spend the upcoming weekend in police custody following his arrest at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) while on a plane bound for Kisumu. Jonathan Okoth Opande, who ran as an independent candidate in the 2022 General Election for the Nyakach Constituency Parliamentary seat without success, is under suspicion for allegedly defrauding two Thai nationals of over Ksh.100 million in a fraudulent gold scheme.
During a search of his office in the Lavington area along Loyangalani Drive in Nairobi, detectives uncovered counterfeit gold bars and pellets, along with a makeshift smelting apparatus. Opande claimed that he was being politically targeted, but the police proceeded to search his residence, a bungalow where they encountered resistance, and discovered a range of documents, including Ministry of Mining licenses and business permits from Nairobi County, yet to be verified.
The detectives also came across company seals, and within one of the compartments, Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) export seals were discovered. To enhance the illusion of authenticity in their scam, the culprits had employed dust coats bearing the Ministry of Mining insignia.
Hidden in the backyard, separate from the main house and away from the victims, was a facility used for smelting. Equipped with gas cylinders and burners, this location was used to transform metals into gold bars and pellets.
Detectives confiscated equipment used in the metal melting process, primarily involving brass, which was then polished to deceive unsuspecting victims into believing it was genuine gold. Furthermore, a storage area on the property contained metal boxes affixed with export and import labels.
Opande stands accused of duping Thai nationals, Kitvisit Songsri and Nutsaphol Songsri, associated with a company named Thai Lion Gold Limited, out of Ksh.100 million in a fake gold transaction. He, however, maintains that his company, Abisai Global Limited, operates legitimately, stating, “I’ve been registered to trade in gold since 2021…even today, I possess a valid license…I act as both a buyer and exporter, and I thoroughly inspect and authenticate the gold before selling it.”
Opande attributes his predicament to political persecution, claiming, “I am being targeted because of my stance on the Sondu clashes, and nothing more.”
Nonetheless, detectives dispute his claims, asserting that their investigation into the Ksh.100 million gold fraud case commenced in February of the current year after the victims reported the matter to the Royal Thai Embassy in Nairobi.
Opande will remain in police custody throughout the weekend and is expected to be formally charged on Monday.