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News channel Al Jazeera puts Zimbabwe corruption documentary on hold

News channel Al Jazeera

News channel Al Jazeera puts Zimbabwe corruption documentary on hold. The first episode of Gold Mafia, a two-year investigation by the Qatar-based news network, had been advertised for 12PM CAT on Thursday. Other episodes were to follow on March 9, 16 and 23.

Al Jazeera on Thursday said it had put a pause on a broadcast of a four-part investigation into official corruption in Zimbabwe without giving reasons. In a brief statement, Al Jazeera said: “The report we were planning to release will no longer be released this morning (March 2). Bear with us while a new release time is arranged.”

A statement released ahead of the planned first broadcast said the investigation was carried out by undercover journalists from Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit who infiltrated rival gangs that control Africa’s gold. “Criminal networks turn dirty cash into gold, which is sold around the world. The investigation leads to the highest offices of state in southern Africa,” Al Jazeera teased.

Gold Mafia looks at how society’s obsession with gold through the ages underwrites a global shadow economy. It exposes the complicity of global financial institutions, regulators and governments in the criminality.

Through thousands of confidential documents and exclusive interviews with whistleblowers from within the criminal underworld, investigators obtain the blueprints of billion-dollar money laundering operations that service the political elite.

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Undercover reporters pose as criminals with over a billion dollars of black money that needs to be cleaned. The team is led by a fictitious Mr Stanley, a Chinese gangster with links to the Triads. His undercover reporters befriend members of rival gold mafia gangs.

In Episode 1: The Laundry Service

The founder of the UK-based Good News Church, which has 15 branches around the world, offers to launder 1.2 billion dollars of dirty cash from China. “I am the second largest diplomat in the country,” Uebert Angel tells undercover reporters.

Angel is also presidential envoy and Zimbabwe’s ambassador-at-large to 85 countries. He offers to use his diplomatic cover to fly Mr Stanley’s dirty cash into Zimbabwe where it can be laundered through gold and other investments.

“Right now I can have a bag like this with US$1.2 billion and put red tape written diplomat. Nobody can touch it,” Angel says. “It is a very, very easy thing.”

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Mr Stanley and his team get invited to closed door meetings with Kamlesh Pattni, notorious for devising a gold export scam that siphoned US$600 million from Kenya in the nineties. They also sit down with Pattni’s competitor and convicted gold smuggler, Ewan Macmillan.

“There is an opportunity, a hell of a big opportunity to wash money here,” Macmillan says.

Both men are licensed gold traders in Zimbabwe and Dubai. They offer Al Jazeera’s undercover team lucrative deals to launder over US$100 million through government gold export schemes. The rival crime bosses reveal that at the centre of it their operations is southern Africa’s biggest laundromat, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.

The investigation reveals that the Gold Mafia are employed by Zimbabwe’s ruling elite to export gold on the government’s behalf. It is a scheme to bust international sanctions placed on political leaders and government entities.

Mr Stanley speaks to Henrietta Rushwaya, president of Zimbabwe Miners Federation and niece of President Emmerson Mnangagwa. She was arrested two years ago carrying 6kg of gold at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport let go by a court after claiming to have picked the wrong handbag.

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Within minutes, she offers them a laundry service that can clean US$10 million of dirty cash a week through the reserve bank and gold producers she knows.

In other explosive revelations, ZimLive has heard that Angel was filmed soliciting a “gift” of US$200,000 for President Mnangagwa from Mr Stanley. He allegedly tells the Al Jazeera journalists that the money is not a bribe, “but the president appreciates gifts.”

Macmillan, meanwhile, allegedly refers to Vice President Constantino Chiwenga as a “dunderhead.” Both men allegedly flaunted their proximity to power, even demonstrating that with phone calls to top ranking officials in the presence of the journalists.

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