Police target ‘Gold Mafia’
POLICE are investigating allegations raised by an Al Jazeera documentary that alleges several prominent Zimbabweans, mainly businesspeople and officials of Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe subsidiaries, are engaged in money laundering and possible corruption around gold sales.
In the documentary titled “Gold Mafia”, Al Jazeera’s investigative unit alleges that Uebert Angel, Mr Simon Rudland, Mr Ewan McMillan, Mr Cleopas Chidodo, Mr David Chirozvi, Mr Mehlululi Dube and Mr Fradreck Kunaka are among those engaged in money laundering and gold smuggling. Already, the RBZ’s Financial Intelligence Unit has frozen their bank accounts while investigations are in progress and there were unconfirmed reports over the weekend that some of the group may have been questioned by police.
In an interview, national police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi could not be drawn into confirming if any arrests had been made.
“The Zimbabwe Republic Police is conducting investigations and will give detailed information to the public and media once the initial inquiries are complete,” he said.
In a statement posted on social media, Mr Rudland denied involvement in any of the alleged gold deals.
“This documentary is very sensationalised and extreme despite mere selective snippets of wild and broad claims without any context or evidential proof.
“This is done to traumatise and sensationalise for maximum exposure. Any investigation into this documentary is welcome and will reveal the extent of the fabrication of information contained by Al Jazeera,” he said.
Mr Rudland said the documentary clearly lacks factual attributions.
In the documentary, Mr Rudland and Mr MacMillan are portrayed as smugglers who have deals with Fidelity Printers and Refiners to deliver gold bought from small-scale miners to the refinery.
They then export the gold to Dubai and allegedly provide hard currency for Zimbabwe. But the documentary alleges that the two, plus Mr Pattni and Angel, use this mechanism to launder millions of dollars.
Angel is portrayed as offering to use his diplomatic status to carry large volumes of dirty cash into Zimbabwe as part of a laundering operation also involving gold smuggling. And he is captured repeatedly dropping the name of the President to Al Jazeera’s undercover reporters.
The Kenyan-born Mr Pattni calls himself Brother Paul and is featured as someone who could help the undercover reporters launder more than US$100 million.Mr Chidodo is the Airports Company of Zimbabwe Head of Security who was captured in Episode 2 of the documentary detailing how he assists gold smugglers avoid detection as they carry their contraband to Dubai through the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport, while Mr Chirozvi is the head of finance at the Reserve Bank subsidiary Aurex Jewelry.
Mr Kunaka is the general manager of Fidelity Printers and Refiners. He was allegedly on the payroll of the gold mafia during which he received kickbacks of US$30 000 a month, according to the documentary.
Mr Dube, who was allegedly being paid US$3 000 per month by the gold smuggling syndicate, is associated with Golden Beryl (Private) Limited.