Gold Mafia deals: Uebert Angel holed up in Dubai
PRESIDENTIAL Envoy and Ambassador-at-Large Uebert Angel is currently holed up in Dubai alongside several prominent members of rival gangs exposed in Al Jazeera’s Gold Mafia investigative documentary as key players in the looting of Zimbabwe’s gold and money laundering activities.
Sources in the security sector say a rattled Angel, who fears he may be sacrificed by being arrested if he comes to Zimbabwe, is studying the mood of the Zimbabwean authorities while weighing his options from Dubai, which ironically received most of the country’s smuggled gold.
Angel was the most vocal and undiplomatic actor in the four-part investigative series which exposed that President Emmerson Mnangagwa had a close relationship with gold smugglers and money launderers, who claimed they were making regular payments to the President to ensure protection.
The controversial diplomat played a role in exposing Mnangagwa, his wife Auxillia, niece Henrietta Rushwaya and the President’s gold runner Pedzisai “Scott” Sakupwanya in the documentary. Dubai is also a destination for gold smuggled from several other African countries.
One of Africa’s largest gold smugglers, Kamlesh Pattni, known as Brother Paul, who features prominently in the documentary is also in Dubai, which he described as the headquarters of Africa in the documentary.
“Dubai is the headquarters. Dubai is the centre of Africa; a banking centre, financial centre, it’s tax free,” he told undercover reporters.
Pattni has all but abandoned his Zimbabwean operations. In the 1990s, his firm Goldenberg International was at the centre of a giant scandal that robbed Kenya of $600 million — 10% of its GDP at the time.
The then president Daniel Arap Moi allowed Pattni to export Kenyan gold at a time when the East African country was facing a Western aid embargo in return for massive incentives. Alistair Mathias, a Canadian national who is the brains behind Ewan MacMillan’s gold operations, is also believed to be in Dubai, where he largely operates from.
Mathias allegedly launders money for people all over the world, from Russians to African politicians, using a web of companies and refineries to make sure money “gets moved around”.
A key player on the South African front, Mohammed Khan, better known as “Mo Dollars,” who made headlines as the man at the centre of the alleged money laundering scheme involving gold and tobacco, assisting prominent business persons Simon Rudland and Gold Lead Tobacco Corp, as well as the Gupta brothers, who were at the centre of state capture allegations during former president Jacob Zuma’s tenure, has also fled to Dubai, according to various media reports.
Interestingly, he has joined the Gupta brothers who are also holed up in Dubai. A Dubai court this month rejected South Africa’s request to extradite Atul and Rajesh Gupta due to insufficient legal documentation.
Dubai police arrested the Gupta brothers in June after Interpol had issued a Red Notice against them for allegedly looting billions from state-owned companies in South Africa. UAE and South Africa signed an extradition treaty in 2018, which was ratified in 2021.
Following their arrest, the South African authorities submitted an extradition request based on two cases of money laundering, fraud and corruption.
The ministry of Justice said in a statement that the Dubai Court of Appeal rejected the request following a “comprehensive and thorough legal review process” that found the documents submitted were not in line with the extradition agreement between the UAE and South Africa.
The ministry said that based on the extradition treaty, the charge of fraud should be accompanied by a copy of the arrest warrant order.
However, the submitted documents for the two accused were cancelled arrest warrant orders. Also based on the treaty, the charge of corruption should be accompanied by a copy of the arrest warrant order, the court said.
The ministry said the “submitted documents are free of the arrest warrant order of the two accused for the charge of corruption”, which also failed to meet the extradition conditions. The ministry said it received the original extradition file from the South African authorities on 29 November, after holding several meetings.
The extradition request was referred to the prosecutors to investigate the accused concerning the charges levelled against them. After a comprehensive investigation, the file was referred to the Court of Appeal, which held three hearings before issuing its decision.
“At every step, UAE judicial authorities briefed their South African counterparts on proceedings,” the ministry said in its statement.