Jonathan Okoth Opande before a Makadara court on Thursday, October 12, 2023.
A politician who was arrested at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) aboard a Kisumu-bound plane last week has been charged with conspiracy to steal USD 90,600 (Sh100 million) in a fake gold transaction.
Jonathan Okoth Opande was charged before a Makadara court with two counts of conspiracy to defraud the money from Kitwisit Songsri, a Thai national by purporting that he was in a position to sell him 3kg of gold.
Opande is suspected of having swindled Songsri and fellow countryman Nutsaphol Songsri working with a company by the name of Thai Lion Gold Limited, Sh100 million in the purchase of fake gold.
Opande denied the charges before Chief Magistrate Francis Kyambîa and he ordered him to be released on a cash bail of Sh 500,000 pending the hearing and determination of the case.
The case will be mentioned on February 27, 2024, when it will be consolidated with another case before the court.
Opande contested for the Nyakach Constituency Parliamentary seat on an independent ticket in the 2022 General Election but lost.
During his arrest on October 6, 2023, at JKIA detectives recovered alleged fake gold bars and pellets in addition to a makeshift smelting machine in his office in the Lavington area along Loyangalani Drive of Nairobi.
Detectives had raided a house converted into a lavish office belonging to Opande who, in cuffs, followed through as the sleuths broke one door after another in his bungalow.
According to the police, an array of documents was also recovered and is yet to be authenticated from the Ministry of Mining Licenses in Nairobi County business permits.
Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) seals were also recovered in one of the compartments.
To make the scam real, according to detectives, the scammers used labeled dust coats branded Ministry of Mining.
In the backyard detached from the main house and where the high-level victims were never brought, was a structure used as the smelting hub.
In the structure complete with gas cylinders and burners, metals are smelted to take the form of golden bars and pellets.
Detectives impounded the paraphernalia used to melt metals, smelt mostly brass, that is then polished to deceive unsuspecting victims that it is gold.
In the far corner of the property was a store where metal boxes with export and import stickers were recovered.
He, however, denied the charges saying his company, Abisai Global Limited, is legit.
Opande maintained he is duly registered to trade in gold since 2021.