PRESS STATEMENT: An investigation by Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit infiltrates the rival gangs that control Africa’s gold. Criminal networks turn dirty cash into gold, which is sold around the world. The investigation leads to the highest offices of state in southern Africa.
GOLD MAFIA is a four-part series by the I-Unit to be released on March 2, 9, 16 and 23, 2023. The series looks at how society’s obsession with gold through the ages underwrites a global shadow economy. It exposes the complicity of global financial institutions, regulators and governments in the criminality.
Through thousands of confidential documents and exclusive interviews with whistleblowers from within the criminal underworld, investigators obtain the blueprints of billion-dollar money laundering operations that service the political elite.
Undercover reporters pose as criminals with over a billion dollars of black money that needs to be cleaned. The team is led by a fictitious Mr Stanley, a Chinese gangster with links to the Triads. His undercover reporters befriend members of rival gold mafia gangs.
In Episode 1: The Laundry Service
The founder of the UK-based Good News Church, which has 15 branches around the world, offers to launder 1.2 billion dollars of dirty cash from China.
“I am the 2nd largest diplomat in the country,” Uebert Angel tells undercover reporters.
Angel is also presidential envoy and Zimbabwe’s ambassador-at-large to 85 countries. He offers to use his diplomatic cover to fly Mr Stanley’s dirty cash into Zimbabwe where it can be laundered through gold and other investments.
“Right now I can have a bag like this with 1.2 billion and put red tape written diplomat. Nobody can touch it”, Angel says. “It is a very, very easy thing.”
Mr Stanley and his team get invited to closed door meetings with Kamlesh Pattni, notorious for devising a gold export scam that siphoned $600 million from Kenya in the nineties. They also sit down with Pattni’s competitor and convicted gold smuggler, Ewan Macmillan.
“There is an opportunity, a hell of a big opportunity to wash money here,” Macmillan says.
Both men are licensed gold traders in Zimbabwe and Dubai. They offer our undercover team lucrative deals to launder over $100 million through government gold export schemes. The rival crime bosses reveal that at the centre of it their operations is southern Africa’s biggest laundromat, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
The investigation reveals that the Gold Mafia are employed by Zimbabwe’s ruling elite to export gold on the government’s behalf. It is a scheme to bust international sanctions placed on political leaders and government entities.
Mr Stanley speaks to Henrietta Rushwaya, president of Zimbabwe Miners Federation and niece of President Emmerson Mnangagwa. Within minutes, she offers them a laundry service that can clean $10 million of dirty cash a week through the reserve bank and gold producers she knows.
Online from 10.00 GMT on Thursday, March 2, 2023.
On Al Jazeera English at 20.00 GMT on the same day.