South Africa Launches Investigation into Gold Smuggling Ring

Last month, Al Jazeera conducted an investigation into gold smuggling in Africa. The investigation, which was recorded as a four-part series, uncovered a money laundering and gold smuggling scheme in Zimbabwe and South Africa. The investigative videos uploaded on YouTube show the inner workings of this gold mafia as well as the kingpins who run the show.

In a recent speech to parliament, South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa revealed that the country had began its own investigation into the matter. Ramaphosa stated that preserving the financial system’s integrity was of utmost importance, adding that the investigation was in the inquiry stage.

Key individuals mentioned during Al Jazeera’s investigation include Mohamed Khan, alias Mo Dollars. Some of Khan’s high-profile clients were also named, with Simon Rudland among them. Rudland is a millionaire who owns Gold Leaf Tobacco.

Revenue officials in South Africa have, in the past, accused Rudland of tax evasion through the sale of his products on the illicit market. In the series, we learn that Rudland authorized Salt Asset Management (owned by Khan) to conduct foreign exchange transactions on behalf of Gold Leaf. This and a complex web of front companies, fake invoices and accounts allow Khan to launder millions to bank accounts globally.

Rudland has responded to the investigation, revealing that while he had dealt with Mohammed Khan, the allegations brought up were part of a smear campaign by an unidentified party. His company, Gold Leaf Tobacco, has also issued statements denying any involvement in illegal gold trade, money laundering and related matters.

In addition to South Africa’s investigation, a United Kingdom House of Lords member also requested that an investigation into some individuals mentioned as part of the smuggling ring be conducted by United Kingdom authorities. The individuals in question — Kamlesh Pattni, Rikki Dolan and Uebert Angel — all have British citizenship.

Pattni is a smuggler who nearly succeeded in bankrupting Kenya in the ‘90s via a scheme to smuggle gold. After his acquittal, he moved his money laundering and gold smuggling operations to Zimbabwe. Angel is Zimbabwe’s ambassador-at-large for Europe and the Americas as well as a self-proclaimed prophet. He is recorded agreeing to smuggle more than a billion dollars in dirty funds into his motherland using his diplomatic status as a cover.

Angel has issued statements responding to the undercover investigation, noting that he was also undercover and had been aware that the persons interviewing him were reporters. This is despite the fact that he is yet to issue any evidence of him being undercover.

The Al Jazeera investigation underscores why legitimate players such as Newmont Corporation (NYSE: NEM) (TSX: NGT) have to strengthen how their products are tracked along the supply chain so that they aren’t tainted with allegations of money laundering or other international crimes.

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