A Kenyan national who has been described as the number one gold smuggler in Africa in Al Jazeera’s Gold Mafia documentary was given a Lifetime Africa Achievement Prize in 2012 for outstanding humanitarianism and equity in Africa.
Kamlesh Pattni was awarded by Ghana’s The Excellence Awards Foundation (EAF) also known as the Millennium Excellence Awards founded by Ambassador Ashim Morton, and whose life patron is the Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II.
The awards ceremony was held at the Presidency State House in Nairobi, Kenya on December 15, 2012 and attracted the leadership of the African Union (AU), the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and very eminent dignitaries from countries across the continent.
Pattni was awarded alongside other Heads of State including the late President Prof. John Evans Atta Mills, who was conferred with a posthumous prize for democratic governance and development in Africa; President Mwai Kibaki of Kenya, the prize for leadership, national cohesion and stability and President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, who will received the prize for nation building and African leadership.
At the time of his award, Kamlesh Pattni, was facing several counts of fraud in a court case after he was implicated in a scandal that robbed Kenya of 10% of its GDP in the 1990s.
Kamlesh Pattni was involved in the so-called Goldenberg scam, a gold smuggling operation that robbed Kenya of $600mn and led to charges of corruption against many members of then President Daniel Arap Moi’s government.
Pattni’s company, Goldenberg International, was granted an exclusive licence to export Kenyan gold, but instead, he allegedly smuggled gold from what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo.
After years of prosecution, Pattni was acquitted in 2013.
Pattni, who is now a self-proclaimed pastor and sometimes goes by the name Brother Paul, is now running a similar scheme in Zimbabwe from his base of operations in Dubai.
The revelation is part of Al Jazeera’s Gold Mafia, a four-part series investigating some of Southern Africa’s largest gold smugglers and money launderers.