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Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe unfreezes assets of “Gold Mafia’ suspects

The Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) under the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has lifted the assets freeze that had been placed on Ambassador Uebert Angel, Ewan MacMillan, Simon Rudland and Kamlesh Pattini who had been implicated in alleged money laundering by a four part Al Jazeera documentary series titled “Gold Mafia”.

FIU director general, Oliver Chiperesa, issued a statement on Monday directing financial institutions to “unfreeze all assets and other financial assets” belonging to those implicated in the documentary.

“The FIU, working in close collaboration with law enforcement agencies, has since concluded its analysis of the four episodes of the Al Jazeera documentary and has also analysed the financial assets and transactions of the persons implicated in the documentary and has determined that there is no good cause for the freezing order to remain in place.

“The FIU has not identified transactions / assets linked to money laundering and related financial crime connected to the allegations in the Al Jazeera documentary,” reads the FIU statement.

“In view of the above, the FIU has directed financial institutions to unfreeze all the accounts and other financial assets that had been frozen pursuant to the directive of 31 March 2023.

“The unfreezing action is without prejudice to any further investigations that law enforcement agencies may wish to commence or continue against any of the persons involved.”

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Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda has also weighed into the matter directing legislators to stop investigations into the Al Jazeera documentary because the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) has initiated its own investigation.

In a memo addressed to the Public Accounts Committee and the Budget and Finance committee chairpersons, Mudenda said it was unfair for Parliament to continue investigating the matter since Zacc had embarked on similar investigations.

“Reference is made to the requests by the above two committees regarding the above matter. I wish to state from the outset that the matter is serious and of national importance,” said Mudenda.

“However, it is pertinent to note that the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission and the RBZ have already started processes to investigate the matter.

“In addition, the matters are of a complex nature and may require extraterritorial visits due to the alleged involvement of foreign players.

“In that regard, it is prudent to leave the investigations to specialised agencies like Zacc, and the police are better placed to investigate matters.”

“In addition the Portfolio Committee on Mines and Mining Development conducted an inquiry into illicit financial flows in the mining sector in the course of last year,” he said.

“In reaching this decision I have also been guided by the stance taken by the South African government which has deferred to specialised agencies regarding the same issues.”