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HomeWorldWho are the Gold Mafia? Godmen, conmen and a president’s niece

Who are the Gold Mafia? Godmen, conmen and a president’s niece


They are rival gangs – with many different characters. From new-age pastors to old-school smugglers, and from diplomats to the niece of the Zimbabwean president, Al Jazeera’s latest investigation, Gold Mafia, has uncovered a gang of criminals engaged in billions of dollars worth of gold smuggling and money laundering. in southern Africa.

These are some of the main individuals who run the mafia.

Kamlesh Pattni shakes hands with former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, in a photo he showed Al Jazeera undercover reporters (Al Jazeera)

Kamlesh Pattni aka ‘Brother Paul’

Kenyan-born Pattni knows how to smuggle gold worth millions of dollars like no other – and get away with it. In the 1990s, his company Goldenberg International was at the center of a massive scandal that robbed Kenya of $600 million — 10 percent of its GDP. Then-President Daniel Arap Moi had given Pattni permission to export Kenyan gold at a time when the East African country was facing a Western aid embargo. Instead, Pattni allegedly used his license to smuggle Congolese gold through Kenya. He was charged but never convicted.

Al Jazeera’s undercover reporters found that Pattni has now moved his operations to Dubai and is smuggling gold from all over Africa, mainly from Zimbabwe. He was quick to boast of his influence, showing our reporters photos featuring a galaxy of African leaders – from former Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi to ex-President of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe.

Pattni calls himself Brother Paul – he now runs a church. But he is a “criminal mastermind,” said Lakshmi Kumar, policy director at Washington DC-based think tank Global Financial Integrity, which tracks illicit financial flows and money laundering.

Do you have information about money laundering or do you want to share another tip? Contact the Al Jazeera Investigation Unit on +974 5080 0207 (WhatsApp/Signal), or find other ways to contact us on our Tips page.

But for Pattni, his roles as pastor and smuggler may not be contradictory. At the end of one of his conversations with the undercover reporters, outlining how he could help them launder more than $100 million, he said, “I don’t know how you got to me, but I think God sent you. to have .”

When confronted with the evidence gathered against him as part of the Al Jazeera investigation, Pattni denied any criminal wrongdoing in Kenya and stressed that he had never been convicted in connection with his activities in that country. He denied involvement in any form of money laundering or lifting sanctions or offering money he knew came from illegal sources. He said when he met with our undercover team, he thought he was meeting an investor who wanted to sell a stake in hotel companies and “dive off a portfolio in China for gold buying and mining in Zimbabwe.”

Uebert Angel and President of Zimbabwe Emmerson Mngangagwa
Uebert Angel and Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mngangagwa (photo courtesy of Opeaal.co.zw, Angel’s website)

Ubert Engel

Angel, one of Zimbabwe’s most influential diplomats, was appointed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa as Special Envoy and Ambassador General for Europe and America in 2021.
His job: to invest in Zimbabwe’s collapsing economy. And if we are to believe Angel, it doesn’t matter how the money enters the country.

He offered Al Jazeera’s undercover reporters that he could use his diplomatic cover to bring large amounts of black money into Zimbabwe as part of a money laundering operation that included smuggling gold. And he repeatedly claimed that Mnangagwa was aware of his plans. “I can call the president now, not tomorrow, but now and put him on speaker, that’s no problem,” he said. “We are the government.”

Angel is also a self-proclaimed prophet in his Good News Church. He claims he can cure the sick and predict the outcome of elections and football matches. The Church has branches in 15 countries.

Mnangagwa and Angel did not respond to Al Jazeera’s request for formal comment about the investigation.

Ricky Doolan
Rikki Doolan is a British national and works with Uebert Angel (Screengrab/YouTube)

Rikki Doolan, also known as Pastor Rikki

While Angel was appropriate and gentle in his interactions, his deputy Doolan was more nonchalant. He is a pastor at Angel’s Good News Church and a musician.

Doolan repeatedly told Al Jazeera undercover reporters that he and Angel could arrange a meeting with President Mnangagwa.

At the meetings, Doolan said money laundering wouldn’t be a challenge “as long as you grease the wheels”. The plan proposed by Angel and Doolan involved our reporters – who they thought were Chinese criminals – sending over a billion dollars in illicit money to Zimbabwe through Angel. Some of that would be used to buy Zimbabwean gold, which Doolan said could then be transported to Dubai and sold for legitimate money. “It’s a good washing machine, isn’t it?” he said.

He told our reporters had a lot of unexplained money, he said, “Good, I like embarrassing money.”

Doolan did not respond to Al Jazeera’s request for formal comment about the investigation.

Former Zimbabwean Football Association (ZIFA) Chief Executive, Henrietta Rushwaya, will appear before the Magistrates Courts in Harare on Monday 6 February 2012.  Rushwaya is accused of match-fixing allegations that have rocked Zimbabwean football.  This is according to a report that the Zimbabwean Football Association Rushwaya received last year "huge payouts'' from gambling syndicates after the Zimbabwe national football team toured Asia between 2007 and 2009 and a total of 15 matches were resolved as a result.  (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
Henrietta Rushwaya, here in Harare, in February 2012, is the niece of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, head of the Zimbabwe Mining Federation, and a major conduit for gold smuggling (File: Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP Photo)

Henrietta Rushwaya

She is the President of the Zimbabwe Mining Association and a niece of President Mnangagwa. Rushwaya is the person Angel and Doolan contact when they want to talk about buying gold for their money laundering scam.

It’s not the first time Rushwaya has been involved in a gold scam. In 2020, she was briefly arrested when she tried to transport 6 kg of gold from Zimbabwe to Dubai. Then, the following year, a former Rushwaya driver tried to get his hands on gold over $670,000 to Dubai.

The money laundering scheme Rushwaya outlined to our reporters involved using black money to buy Zimbabwean gold – which our reporters could then sell on the international market in exchange for legitimate money.

The dirty money would be flown by plane from Angel to Zimbabwe, which would bypass customs controls due to its diplomatic status. “I’m always available, I’m here at your disposal,” she told Angel during a phone call discussing the plan.

Rushwaya did not respond to Al Jazeera’s request for formal comment about the investigation.

Ewan Macmillan, also known as Mr. Gold
Ewan Macmillan is also known as Mr Gold (Al Jazeera)

Ewan Macmillan, better known as Mr Gold

Pattni’s arch-rival in Zimbabwe’s gold smuggling industry, Macmillan is loud and talkative. He was first convicted of gold smuggling in the early 1990s when he was just 21 years old. He says he has been in prison several times since then.

Now he is working with the same Zimbabwean state apparatus that once arrested him. Macmillan, also known as Mr Gold, belongs to a group of smugglers – including Pattni – each working with Zimbabwe’s state-run refinery, Fidelity. He is also an acquaintance of Simon Rudland, a Zimbabwean millionaire who has been accused of money laundering by South African authorities.

These smugglers have deals with Fidelity to deliver a quota of gold purchased from small-scale miners to the refinery. They then export it to Dubai and supply hard currency to the Zimbabwean government. But like Pattni and Angel, this mechanism allows smugglers like Macmillan to launder millions of dollars as well.

“There is an opportunity, a great opportunity to wash money here,” he told our reporters. “I can give my partner gold in Dubai and he can just pay you anywhere in the world.”

Macmillan did not respond to Al Jazeera’s request for formal comment about the investigation. Rudland said all allegations against him were false and part of a smear campaign by an unknown third party.

Fidelity Printers and Refiners denied all allegations.

Alistair Mathias, who smuggles gold across Africa
Alistair Mathias, the mastermind behind Macmillan’s operations (Al Jazeera)

Alistaire Mathias

Mathias, the mastermind behind Macmillan’s operation, is the “partner” referred to by the Zimbabwean smuggler. Mathias, a Canadian citizen, allegedly launders money for people all over the world, from Russians to African politicians. Mathias, who is based in Dubai, uses a web of companies and refiners to ensure that money is “pumped around”, as he puts it.

“You sold it to a refinery and the money went into the bank account. So it’s very clean in that way,” he told Al Jazeera’s undercover reporters.

According to Mathias, he “moves” gold worth between $70 million and $80 million every month. Aside from Zimbabwe, he listed Ghana, South Africa and Zambia as among the countries from which he and Macmillan can “export” gold. Macmillan told Al Jazeera reporters that Mathias also works with “the Russians.”

Mathias, initially uncomfortable with Macmillan’s boastful attitude to our reporters, then explained what they needed to do to help him launder their money – set up a company in Dubai that they could claim was involved in the gold trade.

When asked for a formal comment on the findings of the Al Jazeera investigation, Mathias denied that he had designed mechanisms to launder money and said he had not laundered money or illegally traded gold for Russian clients or someone else. He told us he never had a working relationship with Macmillan.

Next week, Al Jazeera will introduce more key figures involved in the gold mafia.

Infographic with the countries where the gold mafia is active.


Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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