HARARE-(MaraviPost)-Simon Rudland, a business tycoon associated with Malawi’s Nyasa Manufacturing Company has been named in a comprehensive money laundering investigation by Al Jazeera.
In its investigation which leads to president and other highest offices in different countries in Southern Africa, Al Jazeera reveals how “criminal networks turn dirty cash into pure gold, which is then sold around the world” as part of a money laundering syndicate.
The syndicate, christened the Gold Mafia, also operates in Malawi.
Al Jazeera alleges that at the peak of the Gold Mafia of Africa and the money laundering business are pastors and reverends such as Prophet Uebert Angel, Pastor Kamlesh Pattni, Pastor Rikki Doolan, Miss Henrietta Rushwaya, Alistair Mathias and Ewan Macmillan.
Al Jazeera also lists business mogul, Simon Rudland, in the first episode of the 4 part series by Al Jazeera Investigation Unit (I-Unit). The investigation took several months and saw an I-Unit undercover team infiltrate rival gangs known as the Gold Mafias that has been controlling gold mining and trading in Africa in the past 2 decades.
Simon Rudland: What does Al Jazeera’s investigation mine?
The investigation alleges that Simon Rudland, a white South African business tycoon, is one of the kingpins leading one of the clans.
“Al Jazeera obtained details of how Simon Rudland, one of Zimbabwe’s richest men, launders money through both Zimbabwean and South African companies. Rudland is the owner of Gold Leaf Tobacco, one of Southern Africa’s biggest cigarette brands, especially on South Africa’s black market” claims Al Jazeera’s I-Unit.
Ewan Macmillan, who Al Jazeera names as one of the Gold Mafia clans, claims while being filmed by hidden cameras that Simon Rudland “bankrolls” Zimbabwe through smuggling of gold to countries like Dubai.
The smuggling of gold, argues Al Jazeera, is intended to launder money as well as help Zimbabwe break Western sanctions imposed on the country during the regime of President Robert Mugabe for chasing white farmers out the country.
“This country [Zimbabwe] has sanctions so the country can’t sell the gold anywhere in the world. An individual can sell it because he doesn’t have sanctions”, says MacMillan.
“[Rudland] bankrolls this whole country. If he wants, he phones up the governor, the [Zimbabwe] Reserve Bank governor: ‘Hi, I want a meeting’. ‘Okay, fine. What time?’ ‘I am coming at 11’. ‘Okay, fine’”, says MacMillan to insinuate the power that Rudland welds in Zimbabwe.
Rudland, according to Al Jazeera, owns one of South Africa’s largest cigarette manufacturers, Gold Leaf Tobacco Corporation, manufacturers of the cigarette brand, Rudland & George RG. The brand is reportedly named after Rudland.
Gold Mafia – Episode 1
Rudland’s Connections in Malawi
In Malawi, Rudland has business connections with Nyasa Manufacturers who serve as official distributors of the cigarette named after him, Rudland & George RG.
Following its investigation, Al Jazeera further established that members of the Gold Mafia have set up shell companies in different countries such as Malawi where they have operational bases for money laundering through gold and other financial businesses such as forex trading.
Also known as the boss, Rudland is described by Macmillan as “massive” and “big” in the region and gold business.
“Rudland exports more gold than MacMillan and Pattni, rival clans. He has a different deal with the government. He is connected to Zimbabwe’s ruling elite. His business partners include a retired General [Stanford Madala Khumalo], a former sanctioned energy minister [Michael Reuben Nyambuya] and Mnangagwa’s former Minister of Foreign Affairs [Sibusiso Moyo]”, reports Al Jazeera.
Moses Nango, a customer service agent for South African Airways (SAA) who “offered to help I-Unit to smuggle gold” also told Al Jazeera “how Rudland and his Gold Leaf Mafia breaks sanctions on behalf of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe”.
“Simon Rudland has got a special deal”, narrates Nango who claims the tycoon has people doing rotations to move the gold out of Zimbabwe.
“They do rotations. At times, there are three people on one flight depending with the volume. Once they get the gold, they get the escort all the way to the airport. When they get at the security checkpoints, their bags are exempted from search. They go with Emirates from Zimbabwe. EK714, that’s the flight they leave with from Harare to Dubai. They are normally traveling either business class or first class”
“Simon has got serious buyers in Dubai already. Someone is going to be waiting with the money”, adds Nango.
“The same flight they left with, that’s the same flight that they come back with. EK713 when it’s leaving Dubai”.
Just like Nango, MacMillan said Rudland has signed deals with Zimbabwe’s state-owned company, Fidelity, to export gold.
Macmillan claims that with the special deals Rudland made with public officials from Fidelity, the tycoon is contracted “to move gold out” of the country from Fidelity to Dubai. Al Jazeera alleges that the contract is conduit to breaking the sanctions the international community imposed on Zimbabwe.
Macmillan also said Rudland’s “got three to five people taking [gold] out of Zimbabwe. They give him the gold”.
Al Jazeera lists Patrick Keith, Talmage George Alexander, Peter Bowen, Terrance Ian Keith and Johannes Swan as Rudland’s henchmen.
“Rudland’s couriers earn cash for Zimbabwe’s leaders in breach of Western sanctions”, alleges Al Jazeera.
It’s a smear campaign – Rudland
Simon Rudland has distanced himself from the money laundering allegations, telling Al Jazeera that the reveal is part of a smear campaign from rival business moguls.
“Rudland told us that all allegations against him were false and formed part of a smear campaign against him by an unidentified third party. He described himself as ‘a strong businessman…competeting against the greedy and the envious”, said Al Jazeera.
His company, Gold Leaf Tobacco which manufactures Rudland and George which Nyasa Manufacturing distributes in Malawi, also shutdown the allegations.
Al Jazeera says “Gold Leaf Tobacco emphatically denied any involvement, past or present, in money laundering, the trade in illegal gold or related matters”.
However, Nyasa Manufacturing Company is yet to comment on the Al Jazeera’s investigation that has fingered out the kingpin behind one of the cigarette brands it has been distributing in Malawi for 5 years in a row.
Nyasa Manufacturing: Rudland & First Capital Bank Malawi
Nyasa Manufacturing owns Nyasa Big Bullets which has entered into a sponsorship deal with First Capital Bank (FCB) in Malawi. The Bank is owned by Hitesh Anadkat, a Malawian of Asian origin. Through his bank, Anadkat also operates in Zimbabwe where Simon Rudland lives.
Ironically, both Simon Rudland and Anadakt have companies that have sponsorship stakes in FCB Nyasa Big Bullets, a subsidiary of Nyasa Manufacturing Company.
An investigation in 2021 based on a leaked trove known as the Pandora Papers established that Anadakt has been stashing money in tax havens. A team of investigative journalists from International Consortium for Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) carried out the investigation that fingered out Anadkat in the tax avoidance scandal that implicated businesses and billionaires allover the world.
As a result of the Pandora Papers, the civil society organisations asked the Malawi Anti-Corruption Bureau to investigate alleged externalisation of forex and minerals from Malawi by the multi-billionaire.
“Most of [the companies] in tourism, agro-business, telecommunications and banking services do not remit all the funds paid or transferred into their bank accounts outside Malawi” reads a letter Open Malawi wrote to Parliament.
Chairperson of Open Malawi, Kondwani Bell Munthali, had argued then that there were companies in Malawi engaged in money laundering and illegal gold dealing similar to what Al Jazeera categorises as Gold Mafia on its investigation.
Nyasa Big Bullets
Just recently, Anadkt’s First Capital Bank (FCB, formerly known as First Merchant Bank Malawi – FMB) also entered into a sponsorship arrangements with Nyasa Manufacturing’s Nyasa Big Bullets.
Some Nyasa Manufacturing officials are directors of a different company which is also involved in football sponsorship here in Malawi. However, the two companies are said to be separate and without any direct or indirect connection. Malawi24 could not independently verify the connection except for the fact that the two companies have those officials.
Konrad Buckle, a 56-year old South African national, is registered in the United Kingdom (UK) to have once served as a director of two companies named Kanengo Holdings Limited with certificate number 11619968 and 11619876. The companies, incorporated in 2018, are registered at 14 High Cross, Truro in Cornwall.
Ironically, Nyasa Manufacturing’s Managing Director is also called Konrad Buckle. Malawi24 could not independently verify if the two people are the same. However, on his LinkedIn, Buckle lists as being the chairperson of Nyasa Manufacturing and Nyasa Mobile Company.
Buckle has previously served as a board member of the Malawi state owned company, Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA).
On his part, Anadkat has served in the board for Telekom Networks Malawi (TNM). Malawi government has stakes in TNM. As a telecommunication company, TNM is regulated by MACRA.
Meanwhile, the scandal implicating Simon Rudland continues in the yet-to-be aired second episode of the Gold Mafia series according to a trailer that Al Jazeera has released. This is despite Rudland maintaining his innocence.
Buckle is yet to respond the questionnaire email.