Gold Mafia suspects’ assets frozen

Fungi Kwaramba-Political Editor

THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) has frozen the assets of four officials who are implicated in gold smuggling, money laundering, bribery and other corrupt activities whose self-incriminating comments are contained in a documentary by Al Jazeera titled “Gold Mafia”.

This comes as Government on Tuesday directed relevant State organs to institute investigations into the allegations that were raised in the documentary where some people are on record admitting to receiving kickbacks from the alleged gold mafia.

Government has also warned people in the habit of namedropping and boastful behaviour as captured in the documentary to desist from such practices.

In that vein, the FIU has since moved to freeze the assets of individuals who are implicated in the documentary.

In a memo seen by The Herald, the FIU directs that the assets of Cleopas Chidodo, David Chirozvi, Mehlululi Dube and Fredrick Kunaka be frozen. 

“You are being directed to immediately identify and freeze all assets of the following individuals; Cleopas Chidodo, David Chirozvi, Mehlululi Dube and Fredrick Kunaka. May you also freeze all assets of legal persons and arrangements associated with them. Kindly treat this request as urgent,” read the memo in part.

Chidodo is the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe Head of Security who was captured in Episode 2 of the documentary detailing how he assists gold smugglers avoid detection as they transport their contraband to Dubai via Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport, while Chirozvi is the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s Aurex Jewellery Head of Finance. 

Kunaka is the General Manager of Fidelity Printers and Refiners. He was allegedly on the payroll of the gold mafia during which he received a kickback of US$30 000 a month, according to the documentary.

Dube, who was allegedly being paid US$3 000 per month by the gold smuggling syndicate, is associated with Golden Beryl Private Limited. 

The four form part of the team that has been aiding criminal elements smuggling gold and abusing their positions.

In a move that has won plaudits from across the political divide and the broader society, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa told journalists on Tuesday that Government has instituted investigations around the Al Jazeera documentary in which some people have been accused of corruption, fraud, and other criminal activities.

Political and social commentator Mr Obert Gutu said he has confidence in the Government to tackle any form of corruption.

“President Mnangagwa has condemned corruption in all its various forms, shapes, and sizes. He has repeatedly pronounced the Second Republic’s zero-tolerance policy towards corruption. The ongoing Al Jazeera documentary has got to be taken in the context of this hardline stance against corruption. It is refreshing to note that Minister Monica Mutsvangwa has now issued a formal statement pertaining to the Al Jazeera documentary.

“Whilst the motive and timing of the release of the Al Jazeera documentary decidedly underlie a naked and obvious anti-Government political agenda, it is perhaps time for the powers that be to crack the whip against nefarious, unscrupulous, greedy and scandalous characters who flagrantly abuse their privileged positions of authority and influence to criminally line their own pockets with ill-gotten wealth. 

“It is very encouraging to note that the relevant arms of the State have since been activated in order to take a deeper look into the shenanigans exposed in the Al Jazeera documentary with a view to clamping down on any individuals that might have deviated from their official line of duty by conducting themselves in a shameful, disgraceful and criminal manner,” said Mr Gutu.

In her statement, Minister Mutsvangwa said Government remains seized with the matter and the nation will be kept apprised of new developments.

“Government takes the allegations raised in the documentary seriously and has directed relevant organs to institute investigations into the issues raised therein.

“Any person found to have engaged in acts of corruption, fraud or any form of crime will face the full wrath of the law,” she said.

Minister Mutsvangwa said Zimbabwe is a law-abiding nation that will continue to act as such.

“Government takes this opportunity to reaffirm its commitment to upholding local and international laws, including laws relating to financial transactions, the trade of gold and other precious minerals.

“Boastful behaviour and name-dropping by some personalities featured in the documentary, seeking personal gain and glory should never be taken as an enunciation of Government policy,” she said.

The Second Republic has on countless times warned name-droppers, the corrupt and malcontents who pursue narrow selfish interests at the expense of broad-based development, that the Government is always on high alert to flush them out.

This comes as there has been rampant abuse of top Government officials’ names, especially the First Family, by criminally-minded elements who seek to grab national resources at the expense of the public.

But that is not how the Second Republic under President Mnangagwa operates since the First Citizen’s emphasis has always been on honest hard work.

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