ONE of Africa’s most notorious gold dealers Kamlesh Pattni, who was implicated in the Goldenberg scandal which almost bankrupted Kenya in the 1990s, says he pays President Emmerson Mnangagwa every two weeks to enable him to smoothy carry out his gold and money laundering operations in Zimbabwe.
He also told undercover Al Jazeera reporters — posing as gangsters who wanted his service to launder as much as US$1.2 billion — that he keeps Mnangagwa well-briefed about his deals and movements for protection.
The revelations are contained in the fourth episode of Al Jazeera Investigative Unit’s four-part Gold Mafia series. Pattni fled Kenya and moved his operations to Zimbabwe and Dubai after being acquitted following his arrest in a scandal that robbed Kenya of 10 percent of its GDP in the 1990s.
The Goldenberg scam is a gold smuggling operation that robbed Kenya of US$600 million and led to charges of corruption against many members of former president President Daniel Arap Moi’s government.
He told the undercover reporters that Mnangagwa was aware of the money the gang’s laundering plans and the role he would play to facilitate the money coming into Zimbabwe. Earlier he demonstrated his closeness to the president by showing him WhatsaApp messages between the two.
He also showed reporters pictures of him with Mnangagwa and Family Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa.
“This is his number. I call him Tembo,” said Pattni. At this point one of the undercover reporters said: “You WhatsApp him?”.
“I always give him how much we have done . . . Yeah, he has to be informed. I was just writing him a message here,” responded Pattni, showing the reporters WhatsApp messages he exchanged with the president. One of the undercover reporters appeared to be stunned and asked: “This is the President’s number. Direct to the President?”
Pattni response: “Yes directly . . . I have to inform him.” Pattni, also known as Brother Paul, tells reporters they would enjoy the same protection that he gets from Mnangagwa before assuring them that the president was “100%” aware of the money laundering plan.
He said he makes payments to Mnangagwa every two weeks through his young brother, so that he sustains his operations.
“This is like the norm of life. The incentives, the fees . . . the appreciation,” said Pattni.
“Every two weeks, Swetang, my brother is there. Every fortnight, he is there at the State House. We always contribute our appreciation.”
At this point one of the reporters asks; “To Mnangagwa?” “To the King himself,” response Pattni. “When you work, you must always have the king with you. The President.
Who is Pattni?
Kenyan national Pattni is one of Africa’s most notorious gold dealers. He calls himself Brother Paul and boasts of extensive contacts on the continent, including heads of state. By his own confession in the first part of the documentary, he moves between US$20 million and US$50 million a week.
Pattni has operations in Dubai and several African countries, inclusing Zimbabwe, Zambia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. He fled Kenya after former President Daniel Arap Moi left power in 2002, after which he was arrested for corruption when the opposition came into power.
Pattni was recorded boasting about how he met Moi as a young man, through the country’s intelligence director and eventually became one of his advisers. He was granted an exclusive gold-exporting licence which saw him making over US$600 million, which he shared with the former Kenyan leader and those close to him.
After being set free by the courts, Pattni moved to Zimbabwe where he has been cutting mouth-watering deals with the country’s leaders, including buying and exporting gold mainly to Dubai, in return for a handsome commission of 18% of proceeds from exported gold. He has all the required paperwork, which makes it easy to launder money, most of which he keeps in Dubai.
“Dubai is the headquarters. Dubai is the centre of Africa; a banking centre, financial centre, it’s tax free,” he tells undercover reporters in the first episode.
“We have our own licence clearing at Dubai airport. We have permission of the Central Bank of Dubai. We have permission of the Reserve Bank (of Zimbabwe). We have the money laundering clearing certificates. We will show you all that, we will show you.”
Pattni has RBZ authority to move US$3 million into Zimbabwe a week and generated US$168 million in 2020. The government pays an 18% bonus on the proceeds of his exports. The documentary reveals that Pattni and his courier declare their money on arrival at the airport.
They however declare less money. In some cases, they bring in as little as US$50 000 or US$100 000 after selling gold worth up to US$2 million. They then bribe custom officials to confirm they have brought the right amount of money.
In one case, Pattni’s former accountant reveals that the dealer brought in US$99 850 after selling gold worth US$1.2 million. To fund his gold buying, he then collects money from the Hawala market, where Zimbabwean-based clients who want to move money to Dubai give him hard cash.
He then uses the money to buy gold and sells it in Dubai before paying the clients with proceeds from the sale, in Dubai. Pattni however denied criminal wrongdoing in Kenya and emphasised that he had never been convicted in relation to his activities in that country.