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Gold swindler that is Chris Okeyo Obure

By Standard Reporter | Published Sat, January 7th 2017 at 00:00, Updated January 6th 2017 at 20:40 GMT +3
Chris Okeyo Obure. PHOTO: STANDARD

To many, he is known as a businessman. But few know what he does.

Chris Okeyo Obure, 36, is flamboyant and whenever you meet him, he’s quick to tell how rich and connected he is.

He had been on the run, wanted by police for assault and misusing his gun at a popular club on Galana Road in Kilimani, Nairobi. He was arrested and disarmed on Wednesday evening. Nairobi police boss Japheth Koome said he will face all the charges he has been accused of.

“He will face the law. We don’t condone impunity,” Koome said. Obure was charged on Thursday with assault and released on Sh20,000 bond. Police allege Obure beat up and injured one Ben Alila on New Year Eve outside B-Club in a scuffle during which he brandished his gun.

Obure had apparently double parked his black Range Rover, blocking two other customers and when he was called to pave way, he got infuriated, drew his pistol and threatened to shoot Alila and his cousin. He then allegedly smashed the driver’s window of a silver Volkswagen Passat in the confrontation, injuring Alila and his female cousin.

Coincidentally, Obure and the complainants hail from Homa Bay County and know each other. The two complainants recorded statements at Kilimani police station vide Occurrence Book (OB) number 9/31/12/2016.

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Fake gun certificate

This was the second incident. On November 2 last year, Obure threatened to shoot one Alex Lwin at the Klub House on Ojijo Road in Parklands. His gun was confiscated and later returned to him in unexplained circumstances.

“Ask those officers at Parklands and Gigiri how and why the gun was returned to him after the drama at Klub House,” said one officer aware of the probe.

Lwin later complained to police, Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA), the Office of the Directorate of Public Prosecutions and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations, but no action has since been taken against Obure.

Obure is said to have assaulted Lwin, brandished his gun and fired several times into the air, following a confrontation involving a woman.

“All the necessary evidence was laid bare at Parklands Police Station, including spent cartridges, and we have lined up several witnesses,” Mr Lwin said in the appeal to the police.

Police insiders say the B-Club gun drama incident was the latest in a series that Obure is involved in, but he is being protected by a few officers.

He was charged with assault and released on Thursday on Sh20,000 cash bail with an alternative of Sh50,000 bond. Interestingly, he was not charged with misusing a firearm. Obure’s firearm certificate is also now under investigation after officers handling the case realised the post office number on it is the same as that of Kilimani Police Station.

This is an indication that the certificate could be among many others that are fake and in the hands of licensed firearm holders.

Con artists

Obure has in the last seven years been involved in “gold business” together with a cartel that operates in Kenya, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). They don’t sell gold, but con unsuspecting buyers by posing as possible dealers.

The cartel operates at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport where they have a warehouse with real gold bars that they display to buyers to convince them that their business is genuine.

Everyone in the cartel has a role to play. Obure’s role is to ensure “police are on their side” whenever a complaint is made by the buyers who have been conned. He brags how connected he is in the police service, hence the reason no one in the cartel has been arrested and prosecuted, despite numerous complaints from the buyers for nonexistent gold.

Others in the cartel act as the chairman, general manager, operations manager, head of the airport and owner of mining fields. And that is how they survive. They make money posing as dealers.

Obure had on November 14, 2015 thrown a lavish bash for his wife Farah at the Nairobi’s upmarket hotel, Villa Rosa Kempinski. The event was an invite-only white party and was attended by more than 100 people. Obure announced at the party that he had given his wife a phone as a gift and a trip to the Bahamas Island after the wedding.

Obure came to the limelight in 2012 when he claimed he fled to South Africa in 2010 after he had informed police of blood gold deals in Nairobi. This followed the killing of a Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) official who was among those probing the gold scam issues then.

His identity was revealed after the United Nations released a report on the smuggling of gold from DRC to other parts of the world through Nairobi. Obure, who is also known as Philip Obure, had told police of a million dollar con game run by people known to him. Police later established that Obure was among those in the game running a smelter in the city.

Obure then claimed to be chief strategist and director of business development of Great Lakes Group of Companies, which had offices at the Hazina Towers in the city. The company was also linked to several other businesses, including real estate, motor vehicle sales, transport and clearing and forwarding.

The UN report said then the businesses were used to support a fraud ring involving dozens of people in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, DRC and elsewhere.

With the help of the facilities and documents, according to the UN report, the operators purport to trade in gold from the Likasi mines in DRC.

The UN report said the gold is usually non-existent or counterfeit, with buyers being tricked into paying tens of millions of shillings in various fees before learning they have been defrauded.

The same gang was behind the March 4, 2011 visitation by DRC President Joseph Kabila after he was duped that tonnes of gold valued at Sh8 billion had been smuggled to Dubai from his country through Kenya. It then emerged Kenya is at the centre of the multi-billion shilling gold smuggling ring, spanning several countries.