Accountant Reveals How Kamlesh Pattni Is Duping Zimbabwe - Gold Mafia
A former accountant of Kamlesh Pattni, a gold smuggler implicated in a scandal that robbed Kenya of 10 per cent of its GDP in the 1990s has said his former boss is duping Zimbabwe, Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit (I-Unit) can reveal.
Kamlesh Pattni was involved in the Goldenberg scam, a gold smuggling operation that robbed Kenya of $600mn and led to charges of corruption against many members of then President Daniel Arap Moi’s government.
After years of prosecution, Pattni was acquitted.
Pattni, who later became a self-proclaimed pastor and sometimes goes by the name Brother Paul, is now running a similar scheme in Zimbabwe from his base of operations in Dubai.
The revelation is part of Al Jazeera’s Gold Mafia, a four-part series investigating some of Southern Africa’s largest gold smugglers and money launderers.
Undercover Al Jazeera reporters pretending to be Chinese criminals were offered several options by Pattni to launder more than $100mn.
He would do this by effectively turning the dirty money into gold that is exported from Zimbabwe to Dubai, where Pattni owns several gold-trading companies.
Pattni exports gold bars and jewellery from Zimbabwe through his company Suzan General Trading, which gets paid an incentive by the government to sell gold overseas.
That money is then used to buy more gold in Zimbabwe, which would then be exported to one of Pattni’s Dubai-based companies.
Owning both the exporter in Zimbabwe and the importer in Dubai gives Pattni the opportunity to launder the money, which would then be paid into a Dubai bank account and would appear to come from legitimate gold trade. Pattni himself would take a 10 per cent commission.
Kamlesh Pattni Duping Zimbabwe
Documents obtained by Aj Jazeera suggest that Kamlesh Pattni is duping Zimbabwe.
One of his former accountants told Al Jazeera:
He exports jewellery and gold bars to Dubai and the rest of the world. In exchange, he has to bring foreign currency to Zimbabwe. On paper, he is bringing money to Zimbabwe.
When Pattni’s couriers return to Zimbabwe, they declare the cash at the airport. The accountant added:
Anyone bringing currency has to declare it at the airport with the Form 47 that generally we call the blue form.
One of Pattni’s former employees said they bring the cash but overstate the amount of cash they would have brought to the country. Said the anonymous former employee:
Sometimes they’re bringing some cash from there and then they declare it. But the amount is less. They’re not declaring the actual amounts. They bring 50 000, sometimes 100 000 but they declare it as one million or two million.
In one blue form obtained by Al Jazeera, Pattni states that he brought US$1 219 723.20 from selling jewellery in Dubai. But Pattni does not bring US$1 219 723.20 to Zimbabwe. His former accountant said:
They give bribes to the customs guys there. They tell them to stamp their blue form, put the amount they are bringing as $1.2 million but actually he didn’t bring that $1.2 million amount.
A document obtained by Al Jazeera suggests that instead of US$1 219 723.20, Pattni brought US$99 850.
He leaves the bulk of the money he got from selling Jewellery in Dubai.
But that affects his ability to buy gold in Zimbabwe. He does not have US$1.2 million as declared. His former accountant says he would go on the market.
He collects United States dollars from his clients in Zimbabwe and buys gold which he exports as before. He collects his 18% per cent commission from the Zimbabwean government. He uses it to pay his clients in Dubai. The accountant added:
With gold exports, Kamlesh Pattni is pretending that he is helping the country with foreign reserves. He is not bringing any foreign currency inside the country. He is taking all foreign reserves outside the country. He’s just making a fool of the people around him, the government officials.
This explains the continued shortage of foreign currency in Zimbabwe despite huge exports. The money does not enter the Zimbabwean economy.