Africa’s Gold Mafia made up of self-proclaimed prophets, diplomats and gangsters caught in 4K smuggling gold and ‘washing money’.
A four-part investigative documentary produced and aired on news channel, Al Jazeera, has blown the lid on a syndicate that facilitates well-orchestrated money laundering services for criminals. The first episode, The Laundry Service, aired on March 23, 2023 and new episodes have come out every week since.
The documentary took two years of investigation and much of it hinged on the undercover work of three reporters, who relied on hidden cameras and microphones to catch those implicated red-handed.
Leading the investigative unit (iUnit) is ‘Mr Stanley’, a Chinese gangster in search of money laundering services. Then there’s ‘Jonny’ (or the Hawala Man) a black-market trader who moves money across borders without using banks. And lastly, ‘Ms. Sin’, Mr Stanley’s financial advisor.
The first episode profiles Kamlesh Pattni, a pastor who classifies himself as Brother Paul, and the founder of Hope International. Using his pious cover, Pattni manages to get close to several African presidents and ‘work with them’ on a number of shady deals.
Pattni’s greed is bolstered by his political connections, which enable him to get exceptional licenses to export gold from country to country. Just when it seemed the authorities might be onto him and prosecute him for his crimes, particularly stealing taxpayers’ money, he relocated to Zimbabwe from Kenya.
Pattni does not work alone, his accomplices include Ewan Macmillan and Alistair Mathias. Macmillan has been in and out of prison countless times from the age of 21. He stands accused of smuggling gold worth R436 million through an untraceable bank account in Dubai.
The more unassuming of the two, Mathias, earned his gold smuggling stripes in Ghana and as the group’s ‘financial architect’, builds money laundering schemes for corrupt politicians and criminals.
What stays with the viewer beyond the shocking revelations, is the lengths the iUnit journalists went to, to expose all of the things done behind closed doors. It successfully tracks the illicit and seemingly commonplace way corruption robs resource rich nations of their riches.
The documentary comes to show how even people who claim to be prophets cannot be trusted, as seen through Pattni and Prophet Uebert Angel, a Zimbabwean diplomat who uses his government post to facilitate gold smuggling.
Investigative journalism of this kind clearly still has a place and purpose in exposing wrongdoing and holding people to account. All the episodes are free to stream on Al Jazeera’s YouTube channel.
Vuvu rating: 7/10
FEATURED IMAGE: Al Jazeera Gold Mafia Cover. Photo: Screenshot/AlJazeera YouTube
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