THE $5 million gold and cash scandal, which rocked Zimbabwe about two weeks ago, is dead in the water amid indications that the five Indian suspects have been released along with their “loot”.
While police spokesman Chief Superintendent Paul Nyathi was not readily available for comment this week, new information suggests the probe has hit a dead end.
“You would be aware that the group, linked to Suzan General Trading (Suzan) and by extension Kamlesh Pattni, has been released because they were government agents and partners. And in fact, their cash and gold was also returned,” said a source, adding the quintet “had fallen foul of a dirty campaign and set-up by rival bullion buyers”.
The noise around the controversial Kenyan trader’s activities in the country came as the Dubai-based outfit has been identified as one of Fidelity Printers and Refiners (FPR)’s major yellow metal agents since early last year.
About four weeks ago, FPR general manager Fradreck Kunaka told The Financial Gazette that Suzan had “a buying licence, which expired in April 2018” and the gold company was among a small band of dealers bringing in $16 million to $20 million monthly ― in cash ― to buy bullion from artisanal miners.
“The entity used to buy gold and deliver… around five kilogrammes per month prior to the expiry of the licence,” he said in e-mailed responses to this paper.
While opponents have railed at Pattni and his associates for running a scheme almost similar to the Goldenberg International scandal that rocked Kenya in the early 1990s, his sympathisers say he had actually helped the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe subsidiary in boosting its gold reserves
Amid persistent links to Suzan, the controversial merchant has vehemently denied involvement in the gold and cash scandal, and owning any shares in the company controlled by Mukesh Mansukhalal Vaya.
The latter also owns Africa Duty Free Investments in Zimbabwe.
Through its special arrangements with the government-owned entity, the Dubai-based commodities trader would buy the mineral off the high street and deliver it for processing at FPR, and another Central Bank-owned company Aurex (Private) Limited before exporting value-added jewellery, they said.
According to Kenyan media reports, Pattni shot to infamy in the 1990’s through the Goldenberg saga and his associates would have gotten an audience with Harare authorities for their “semblance of ideas on how to earn the country some foreign currency” amid biting shortages that have dogged the economy since 2016.
However, it is his controversial past ― that saw him being tried for an export compensation scheme during Daniel arap Moi’s time ― that has always given quite a number of people and competitors the “chills” about his intentions.
Apart operating some duty free shops in Nairobi, Pattni also rose to prominence after donating a gown formerly owned by slain Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi to Robert Mugabe.
Attempts to secure comment from Vaya or his lawyers were fruitless at the time of going to print Wednesday.-Fingaz