By Clifton Mwangi
The name Chris Obure conjures a picture of an arrogant man who is quick to use his firearm at the slightest-real or perceived-provocation. Forget Chris Obure the politician who also has a checkered past-having been mentioned in corrupt dealings. Chris the businessman is said to be a braggadocio who thinks money is what makes the world go round. The sharply dressed businessman has been linked to the murder of Kevin Omwenga and is known for his trigger happy tendencies just to show who is boss. So who is Chris Obure?
Chris Okeyo Obure is 40 years old and hails from HomaBay county.
The businessman came into the limelight in 2010 when he exposed what came to be known as the blood gold scam. Mr Obure fled the country shortly after he made the report regarding the scam to police. This was after the main suspect who happened to be his boss was released on bond a day after being arrested. Before outing Paul Kobia, the then little known Obure-also going by the name of Philip Obure-worked for his company known as the Great Lakes Group of Companies as Chief Strategist and Director of Business Development.
Before fleeing to South Africa in 2010, Obure informed two senior Criminal Investigations Department Officers about a million dollar con game run by his boss, the Standard reported. His boss and another man reportedly ran a smelter that produced and sold counterfeit gold. An investigative piece by Purity Mwambia ‘Dhahabu ya Mauti’ aired on KTN brought to light the murderous affair that is the gold business. A Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) employee who had been tasked with leading investigations into the kes8 billion gold smuggling syndicate was murdered in cold blood three months later.
A senior KRA official told the Standard about his colleagues murder:
“Cheptarus had been stationed at the airport to pursue how the precious metal is stolen from the DRC and smuggled into Kenya and markets overseas….”
In a separate report, the flamboyant businessman turned whistleblower thwarted a business deal between Kobia and Meranti Holdings, a Hong Kong based company. Obure opened a document on his boss’s computer at his request that he was having trouble accessing. Meranti Holdings that was represented by Pretoria based businessman Dennis Schmelzenbach was about to pay a sum of USD200,000 (Kes17 million-at the rate then) for a 300kg gold consignment valued at USD5 million (Kes400 million). Obure, through a friend, sent Shmelzenbach an email warning him that they were about to be defrauded by his boss.
It is not clear why Obure exposed his boss if years later he was to be at the centre of the fake gold syndicate. Obure is part of a cartel that is in ‘gold business’ with operations in Kenya, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The cartel owns a warehouse at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport where they have real gold bars to lure unsuspecting buyers. The cartel members play different roles with Obure tasked with ensuring ‘police are on their side’. This is the reason why the con business continues to flourish even after numerous complaints by victims.
In a past interview, Obure claimed he was in real estate and commodity trading. He went on to say he makes kes1 million in one week or two weeks.
Controversies And Above The Law Mentality
His numerous gun dramas are well documented. The slightest whiff of a provocation is met with brutal force. A reveller at B-Club in Kilimani narrated how the burly Obure drew a gun and threatened to shoot him after he asked the businessman to move his car so he could leave. Obure had double parked his Range Rover blocking two other customers. He broke his eye glasses and told him he owns Nairobi.
Obure rubbished the claims saying:
“I had just come from holiday with my wife from the Bahamas. I dropped her home and decided to meet a few friends. The parking was full and I double parked. Later, I was called by the club’s security to move my car, but on reaching the parking lot, some young men who were very drunk started hurling abuses at me, asking why I had blocked their car.”
In another incident he assaulted a man and went on to fire seven rounds into the air at a club in Westlands. NTSA officials who had stopped him had to run for dear life after he threatened to shoot them. Police said at the time that five reports had been made against the ‘gold dealer’.
Interestingly, even after these reports are made his guns are always returned making his claims that he owns Nairobi true.
The murder of Kevin Omwenga has come to haunt Obure after his firearm was used in the heinous crime. His bodyguard Robert Ouko shot Omwenga inside his room in what many suspect was a deal gone sour. The gun belonging to Obure was confiscated in 2017 after he used it to threaten another businessman. It is not clear how he got it back.
Chris Obure is married to Farha and the couple have a child together.
Property He Owns
According to media reports, Chris owns a house in Lavington and has three vehicles all valued at more than kes20 million.