Al Jazeera’s Investigation Exposes Zimbabwe’s Gold Smuggling Mafia
An undercover investigation by Al Jazeera has revealed a group of individuals running a mafia worth billions of dollars through gold smuggling and money laundering in Zimbabwe.
The Gold Mafia’s key players are said to include Kamlesh Pattni, aka ‘Brother Paul,’ a Kenyan pastor who also smuggles gold from Zimbabwe, and Uebert Angel, one of Zimbabwe’s most influential diplomats, who is alleged to have used his position to launder dirty cash into the country. Rikki Doolan, Angel’s deputy at his Good News Church, is also implicated in the scheme. Meanwhile, Henrietta Rushwaya, president of Zimbabwe’s mining association and niece of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, is accused of being involved in the purchase of gold for the laundering scam.
Gold Mafia Exposed: Who is Kamlesh Pattni aka ‘Brother Paul’?
Kenyan-born Kamlesh Pattni, also known as Brother Paul, is said to have orchestrated the Goldenberg International scandal in the 1990s, which robbed Kenya of $600m. He allegedly used his license to export Kenyan gold to smuggle Congolese gold through Kenya. Although he was charged, he was never convicted. Today, Pattni operates from Dubai and smuggles gold from all over Africa, mostly from Zimbabwe. Pattni is described by Lakshmi Kumar, policy director at the Washington DC-based think tank, Global Financial Integrity, as a “criminal mastermind.”
In an interaction with Al Jazeera’s undercover reporters, Pattni denied any criminal wrongdoing in Kenya and said he had never been convicted in relation to his activities in the country. He also denied involvement in money laundering, sanctions busting, or offering to deal with funds he knew originated from illegal sources.
Who is Uebert Angel?
Uebert Angel is one of Zimbabwe’s most influential diplomats and was appointed a special envoy and ambassador-at-large to Europe and the Americas by President Emmerson Mnangagwa in 2021. Angel’s task was to attract investment to Zimbabwe’s struggling economy. In the investigation, Angel is accused of offering to use his diplomatic cover to carry large volumes of dirty cash into Zimbabwe as part of a laundering operation involving gold smuggling. Angel repeatedly claimed that Mnangagwa was aware of his schemes.
Angel is also a self-proclaimed prophet at his Good News Church, which has branches in 15 countries. Mnangagwa and Angel did not respond to Al Jazeera’s request for comment.
Gold Mafia Exposed: Who is Rikki Doolan aka Pastor Rikki?
Rikki Doolan is Angel’s deputy at his Good News Church and a musician. In the investigation, Doolan is heard suggesting a laundering scheme that involves Al Jazeera’s undercover reporters, who they believed to be Chinese criminals, sending over a billion dollars of illicit cash to Zimbabwe through Angel. Some of the money would be used to purchase Zimbabwean gold, which Doolan said could then be transported to Dubai and sold for legitimate money.
Doolan did not respond to Al Jazeera’s request for comment.
Who is Henrietta Rushwaya?
Henrietta Rushwaya is the president of Zimbabwe’s mining association and the niece of President Emmerson Mnangagwa. She is accused of being involved in the purchase of gold for the laundering scam. In 2020, Rushwaya was briefly arrested while attempting to carry 6kg of gold from Zimbabwe to Dubai. The following year, a former driver of Rushwaya tried to take gold worth more than $670,000 to Dubai.
Who Is Ewan Macmillan aka Mr Gold?
Ewan Macmillan, also known as Mr Gold, is a prominent figure in Zimbabwe’s gold-smuggling industry and a fierce rival of Pattni. Despite being arrested for gold smuggling in his early 20s, Macmillan now partners with Zimbabwe’s state-run refinery, Fidelity, to export gold to Dubai and provide hard currency for the Zimbabwean government. Along with other smugglers, including Pattni, Macmillan has deals with Fidelity to deliver a quota of gold bought from small-scale miners to the refinery, which allows them to launder millions of dollars. Macmillan is an acquaintance of Simon Rudland, a Zimbabwean millionaire accused of money laundering by South African authorities. However, Fidelity Printers and Refiners denied all allegations of wrongdoing. Macmillan did not respond to Al Jazeera’s request for comment, while Rudland denied all allegations against him.
Who Is Alistair Mathias?
Alistair Mathias is the brains behind Macmillan’s operation and is based in Dubai. Mathias allegedly launders money for people all over the world, from Russians to African politicians, using a web of companies and refineries. He moves gold worth between $70mn and $80mn every month and can “export” gold from countries such as Zimbabwe, Ghana, South Africa, and Zambia. Macmillan claims that Mathias also works with “the Russians.” When questioned by Al Jazeera reporters, Mathias denied designing mechanisms to launder money or trading illegal gold for Russian clients or anyone else. He also denied having any working relationship with Macmillan. Mathias explained to the reporters what they needed to do to launder their cash, which involved setting up a company in Dubai involved in the gold trade.
Al Jazeera will introduce more key characters involved in the gold smuggling industry in the next week.