June 1, 2023

South Africa has launched an investigation into a number of folks concerned in a gold smuggling and cash laundering scheme uncovered by Al Jazeera’s investigative division.

In his speech to the South African parliament, President Cyril Ramaphosa mentioned this week that the investigation was on the “investigative stage”.

“We’re dedicated to sustaining the integrity of our monetary system for the good thing about the financial system as an entire and atypical residents,” Ramaphosa added on Thursday. “Particulars of the steps being taken can’t be launched at this stage with out prejudice to the investigation.”

The investigation is a direct results of The Gold Mafia, a four-part TV sequence produced by Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit (I-Unit) on gold smuggling and cash laundering in southern Africa.

In it, Al Jazeera revealed how a gaggle of cash launderers and gold smugglers successfully took over a number of South African banks by bribing key members, permitting the criminals to ship giant sums of ill-gotten cash overseas with out arousing the suspicion of the authorities.

Mo {Dollars}

The important thing determine on this course of was a person named Mohamed Khan, nicknamed Mo {Dollars}.

“He’s seen as some form of shadowy determine who controls cash laundering in South Africa,” cash laundering investigator Paul Holden informed Al Jazeera.

Amongst Khan’s largest purchasers was Simon Rudland, a Zimbabwean millionaire who owns one of many area’s largest tobacco corporations, Gold Leaf Tobacco. South African tax officers accused Rudland of tax evasion by promoting cigarettes on the black market.

Rudland licensed Khan’s firm SALT Asset Administration to conduct international change transactions on behalf of Gold Leaf. Khan, who additionally owned one other firm referred to as PKSA Group, then used a fancy community of pretend invoices, shell corporations and financial institution accounts to launder lots of of thousands and thousands of {dollars} into financial institution accounts all over the world, from Dubai to Mauritius to Switzerland.

These corporations are managed by Radland and several other enterprise companions.

To make sure that the method didn’t pose any hazard to South Africa’s monetary system, Khan bribed key officers from the nation’s two largest banks – Normal and Absa – in addition to Sasfin, a financial institution specializing in small companies.

Accounting books that Al Jazeera has entry to indicate that these officers had been paid 1000’s of {dollars} in money every month. Different paperwork and interviews present that shady, unlawful transactions had been solely processed when bribed workers had been within the workplace.

The folks within the financial institution’s compliance departments had been paid to maintain the PKSA and SALT Asset Administration paperwork trying clear and getting the mandatory approvals. And within the case of Sasfin, an IT worker obtained bribes to take away fraudulent transactions from the financial institution’s on-line system.

UK Inquiry Request

Final week, a member of the Home of Lords of the UK requested the UK authorities to conduct the same investigation into members of the “golden mafia”.

Three defendants within the investigation – Weberth Angel, Ricky Doolan and Kamlesh Pattney – have British citizenship.

“I hope that the Nationwide Crime Company investigates the actions of those and different people talked about within the documentary, in addition to the sources of their wealth, and that the authorities won’t hesitate to freeze their funds whereas the investigation is ongoing,” mentioned Baron Johnny Oates . mentioned Denby Grange throughout a dialogue of the Financial Crime and Company Transparency Invoice.

Webert Angel is a pastor and self-proclaimed prophet appointed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa as Zimbabwe’s Ambassador-at-Giant to Europe and the Americas. Doolan is Angel quantity two. Angel was secretly recorded agreeing to ship $1.2 billion value of soiled cash to Zimbabwe utilizing his diplomatic standing. He informed undercover Al Jazeera reporters:[The plane] lands in Zimbabwe, and Zimbabwe cannot contact it both till I get to my home. So there could be a diplomatic plan.”

Kamlesh Pattni is a gold smuggler who practically bankrupted Kenya within the Nineties with a gold smuggling scheme. He has since moved his gold smuggling and cash laundering operation to Zimbabwe. He additionally provided to assist undercover Al Jazeera reporters launder cash and smuggle gold, a deal he mentioned Mnangagwa would defend.

YouTube account disabled

In response to the investigation, Angel mentioned that he was really working undercover himself when he recommended breaking the legislation. Angel, who claims to have the ability to predict the long run, mentioned he at all times knew the undercover journalists had been reporters, and he got here up with an elaborate scheme to disclose the true nature of the conferences, regardless of by no means offering any proof that he himself labored undercover.

Following the publication of the investigation, Angel’s YouTube channel was disabled, though it isn’t clear if the account was eliminated by YouTube or if Angel disabled the account himself.

The second account, additionally owned by Angel, stays on-line.

Solutions to the investigation

Simon Rudland informed Al Jazeera that the allegations towards him are a part of a smear marketing campaign by an unidentified third occasion. He denied any involvement within the sale of unlawful cigarettes, in addition to gold smuggling or different smuggling.

He admitted that he had handled Mohamed Khan, who he agreed “gave the impression to be” a cash launderer. He acknowledged that Gold Leaf and one other of his corporations had licensed Khan’s SALT Asset Administration to behave as their agent, however denied that any type of cash laundering had been used on him or any of his companies.

Gold Leaf Tobacco denies any involvement, previous or current, in cash laundering, unlawful gold buying and selling or associated issues. It states that no “tax-free” or “unlawful” cigarettes will be “attributed” to Gold Leaf. Gold Leaf’s restricted offers with Mohamed Khan and SALT Asset Administration have at all times been authorized and correct, he mentioned.

Mohamed Khan informed Al Jazeera that every one the accusations towards him had been false and based mostly on hypothesis, conjecture, and fabricated and falsified proof. He confirmed that he was the proprietor of PKSA Group and SALT Asset Administration and that Gold Leaf had been purchasers of SALT, however denied involvement in cash laundering or different felony actions. He denied giving bribes to anybody who labored within the South African banking sector.

Sasfin Financial institution informed Al Jazeera that it was taking sturdy motion towards the suspended and former workers and purchasers of its international change division and mentioned it had no additional relationship with any of the companies talked about on this article.

Absa Financial institution mentioned it has handed on Al Jazeera’s findings to its forensic investigations division, whereas Normal Financial institution mentioned it has a zero-tolerance stance on fraud and crime and can report and help in any forensic investigation.

Kamlesh Pattni denied being concerned in any type of cash laundering or bribery, and likewise denied having any connection or enterprise relationship with Mnangagwa.

The opposite people featured on this report didn’t reply to our inquiries.

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