Ukrainian left to chase court case after Sh1bn ‘gold’ vanishes in city

Ukrainian Kovalenko Hennadii had hoped to make billions of shillings from the export of 350 kilogrammes of gold mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Then it vanished in Nairobi while at the hands of a security company he had entrusted the gold to export to a refinery in Dubai.

For several months now, he has been stuck in Kenya, chasing his gold and his case.

On Wednesday, the company, Bricks Security Services Limited, associated with a former central Kenya MP, and which had failed to file its defence in time, asked the Commercial Court in Milimani to be given 10 days to file an application to set aside a Sh2.3 billion judgement against it.

The request, heard and granted by deputy registrar Stephanie Githongori, will now open a case which will shed light into the Congo gold transactions and the main players in both Kenya and Uganda.

Sh900 million

In total, he had paid about Sh900 million to brokers and traders and was to make a windfall of hundreds of millions, until the gold disappeared in Nairobi.

Introduced into the trade by an acquaintance, Jeanot Bokwete, the Ukrainian bought the gold nuggets from a Uganda company identified as Dam Gemstores Experts Limited. Trouble started when the Uganda company failed to ship the consignment to Dubai, ostensibly because the Ukranian had not applied for a “non-criminal certificate”.

To get that, he was asked to pay an extra Sh65 million which he paid to a Ugandan man named John Gatete. But still, the consignment was never sent to Dubai despite paying. Due to the delay in the shipment, he was told that some of the certificates had expired and he paid an extra Sh38 million and hired a private jet, three times, for his contacts to fly the shipment.

Soon, his contact, Jean Bokwete was “arrested” in Entebbe for “money laundering” and he paid another Sh11 million to have him released. That is the time he was advised, by Bokwete, to fly the consignment to Kenya “because it was friendly”. Bokwete introduced the Ukrainian to a Nairobi company Afrisolutions Limited run by Joseph Kimo and Zeddy Otieno , who have also been sued.

After the gold was brought to Nairobi. It was tested again and found to be pure. He was told that he would be issued with a certificate at no cost and he left for Ukraine together with his business partner Vladmir Bodnarchuk.

He tells the court that on reaching Ukraine, Mr Kimo sent him a message saying he required Sh100 million for the certificate. He was asked to also part with another Sh30 million to have the consignment shipped within three days.

They flew back to Nairobi and paid more money — Sh12 million — and were allowed to take samples of the nuggets for testing. They were also given some eight kilogrammes of gold nuggets to keep in their hotel. Then police knocked on their hotel doors demanding to know why they were keeping gold illegally.

It was after this that they realised they could have been defrauded and filed the case. They are now asking the court to find the two companies — Afrisolutions and Brinks Security — liable for the loss of the 350 kilos of gold.

It also emerged later that when police raided Afrisolutions Limited, they reported that the gold was “fake”.

Although police arrested two Afrisolutions workers and charged them in court, the Ukrainians believe that their genuine gold is still in Nairobi. If not, they were taken for a fraudulent ride.

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