HARARE , In a shocking development, Zimbabwe’s police have launched an investigation into a group of prominent individuals accused of involvement in money laundering and gold smuggling, following an Al Jazeera documentary titled “Gold Mafia.” The documentary implicates several Zimbabweans, including businesspeople and officials of Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) subsidiaries, in possible corruption around gold sales. The individuals named in the documentary are Uebert Angel, Simon Rudland, Ewan McMillan, Cleopas Chidodo, David Chirozvi, Mehlululi Dube, and Fradreck Kunaka.

According to the documentary, Rudland and McMillan 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. However, the documentary alleges that the two, along with 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. He is captured repeatedly dropping the name of the President to Al Jazeera’s undercover reporters.

The documentary also alleges that Mr. Chidodo, the Airports Company of Zimbabwe Head of Security, assists gold smugglers to 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, who was allegedly on the payroll of the gold mafia during which he received kickbacks of US$30,000 a month, according to the documentary.

In response to the allegations, the RBZ’s Financial Intelligence Unit has frozen the bank accounts of the individuals named in the documentary, and the police have launched an investigation. Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi, the national police spokesperson, has confirmed that investigations are ongoing, but declined to provide further details, saying, “The Zimbabwe Republic Police is conducting investigations and will give detailed information to the public and media once the initial inquiries are complete.”

Simon Rudland, one of the individuals named in the documentary, has denied involvement in any of the alleged gold deals, calling the documentary “sensationalised and extreme.” He stated that the documentary lacks factual attributions and was done to “traumatise and sensationalise for maximum exposure.” He welcomed any investigation into the documentary, saying that it would reveal the extent of the fabrication of information contained by Al Jazeera.

The allegations made in the documentary are serious, particularly given the involvement of officials of RBZ subsidiaries. It remains to be seen what the outcome of the police investigation will be, but the fact that the investigation is taking place at all is significant. It comes just weeks after George Charamba, the spokesperson for President Mnangagwa, threatened to abduct journalists who were going to report about the Gold Mafia Al Jazeera documentary that implicates the President and those close to him as the Gold Mafia syndicate smuggling Gold in Zimbabwe and money laundering. This suggests that the authorities may be taking these allegations seriously and are prepared to investigate them, despite the threat to journalists who may seek to report on the issue.

Source -MasimbaNews ✍

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