PRESIDENTIAL Envoy and Ambassador-at-Large Uebert Angel — who fears being thrown under the bus should he return to Zimbabwe, because of the starring role he played in Al Jazeera’s investigative Gold Mafia documentary which exposed the role President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his close associates are playing to aid criminal networks looting Zimbabwe’s gold — is now in Britain.
Angel was holed up in Dubai alongside several prominent members of rival gangs exposed in the documentary as key players engaging in the looting of Zimbabwe’s gold and money laundering activities. Angel holds a British passport.
Despite being far away from Zimbabwe, Angel remains under scrutiny even in Britain, where House of Lords member Jonathan Oates has requested that he and his assistant Rikki Doolan be investigated for alleged gold smuggling, money laundering and corruption.
Oates has demanded that Angel and Doolan’s assets be frozen since they are UK citizens. Mnangagwa’s adviser Eddie Cross has indicated that Angel will be arrested on arrival in Zimbabwe. He has been holed up in Dubai studying the mood of the Zimbabwean authorities while weighing his options, before leaving for Britain.
Dubai 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 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.
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 US$600 million — 10% of its gross domestic product 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. The United Arab Emirates and South Africa signed fied 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.