Gold Mafia: Behind the Shadows of Africa’s illegal Gold Business


Amidst Africa’s economic chaos is an illegal yet thriving gold business that ‘cleans’ dirty money for Africa’s political elite through gold smuggling.


An expose done by Al Jazeera’s eye unit takes a deep dive into the gold mafia business and highlights how top politicians in different African countries use illegal channels to launder money to foreign countries. Several eye unit reporters went undercover in pursuit of the truth, as to the direness of the situation.

It all started in Kenya, where one man, Kamlesh Pattni, saw the potential to start a thriving gold business under the late President Daniel Moi’s regime. Kamlesh who was born and raised in Kenya would at 24 years become President Moi’s advisor, acquiring licenses to ‘export’ Kenya’s gold to foreign countries through his company, Goldenberg International.

Read also: Kenya ranked the best country in Africa for expatriates

“I was just 24 years old. I was buying a suit in Nairobi, and I met the director of intelligence. Then I told him about gold. I said, look, there’s so much gold flowing through Kenya, but it’s nothing. Kenya is benefiting. It’s not…I can create 500 million, you know, every year from this if you do a proper license, of this gold,” Kamlesh told Eye Unit.

Kamlesh instead used the golden opportunity to import smuggled gold from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), resell it, and got profits worth $600 million. From this amount, Pattni pocketed 35% of commissions while the rest would be shared with the government and its top officials who gave access to licenses.

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This criminal mastermind managed to manoeuvre around the illegal business that almost put Kenya into liquidation at the time until he was charged in court for fraud. He would later be acquitted of the charges and relocated to Zimbabwe to reinvent himself.

Kamlesh or popularly known as Brother Paul is just but one of the many big fish in the gold mafia business in Africa as discovered by the expose.

He and many of his allies in the business have expanded their roots to countries all around Africa, extorting governments of their money in the name of creating a stable economy. They have partnerships with key industry players in power, including Presidents, ministries, and even the African Union.

This business, referred to as a ‘washing machine’ for blood money has inhibited the growth of many African countries. Many of them which are in the gold business but have nothing to show for it.

Ironically, some of the major players are religious leaders. Zimbabwe, Kenya, Ghana, Tanzania, Uganda, and DRC are just but examples of the many African countries caught up in the web of the gold mafia. This revelation puts many Africans in turmoil over what goes on dark shadows lurk within the walls of African governments and leaderships


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