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Transparency International Says Zimbabwe Should Investigate Gold Smuggling Scam Linked to Mnangagwa

Artisanal gold miners work at an open mine in Mazowe, Zimbabwe.
Artisanal gold miners work at an open mine in Mazowe, Zimbabwe.

WASHINGTON - Transparency International has urged Zimbabwean authorities to investigate an alleged gold smuggling scandal linking President Emmerson Mnangagwa to illegal traders, suspected criminals and others siphoning billions of dollars in potential revenue through shady deals.

In a statement, Transparency International noted that Al –Jazeera documentary exposed illicit financial flows from Zimbabwe, including serious allegations of abuse of diplomatic immunity, illicit gold trading, corruption and money laundering in the mining sector.

Transparency International urged the Financial Intelligence Unit, Zimbabwe Republic Police and the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate further and introduce the necessary reforms to end such activities in the country.

“The documentary comes after the release of the 2022 Corruption Perceptions Index, which revealed endemic corruption in Zimbabwe, with a score of just 23 out of 100. New scandals of grand corruption and abuses of public office continue to emerge, which damages the country in the perspective of investors and development partners. Along with the shocking findings of the documentary, these results make clear that it’s time for the government to take stronger action against corruption and money laundering.”

Transparency International said, “As the documentary highlights, more and more cartels work with individuals and institutions in Zimbabwe to move dirty money using anonymous trusts and shell companies in tax havens and other secretive jurisdictions. This insidious relationship facilitates organised crime and huge outflows of gold and other precious minerals.

“In particular, the documentary exposes incidences of alleged under invoicing and under declarations by registered gold dealers to Fidelity Printers and the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority, alleging even higher losses than previously assumed. This reduces the country’s ability to build critical infrastructure and support the needs of the population or respond to urgent challenges. To combat this, the government of Zimbabwe should strengthen mutual legal assistance with other involved jurisdictions to facilitate the exchange of information. They must also ensure that such institutions have the capacity to manage mutual legal assistance requests.”

Transparency International said it is also concerning that the documentary suggests that authorities do not complete sufficient due diligence into potential investors – including official gold traders.

“The revelations are a possible source of information to bust criminal networks that are actively engaging in gold smuggling and laundering money from Zimbabwe and other selected African countries. Law enforcement, anti-corruption agencies and regulatory authorities should immediately revoke gold trade and export licenses given to the implicated individuals and corporations, pending an investigation into the allegations.”

Episode 2 aired a few days ago in which Eubert Angel, who is Zimbabwe’s Ambassador at Large, linked Mnangagwa with a gold smuggling syndicate.

An offer of US$200,000 was made for the Al Jazeera investigative team to meet with Mnangagwa to find ways of smuggling gold out of the country.

Presidential spokesperson, George Charamba, was unavailable for comment. He recently threatened journalists who will write stories related to the issue saying they will be locked up.

Mnangagwa has not personally said a word about the scandal.