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Press Release

New evidence of Gold Leaf Tobacco’s massive money-laundering network

Thursday 6  April 2023 – DAMNING new evidence of the international money-laundering network controlled by illicit cigarette kingpin Simon Rudland and his associates is revealed today.

The third instalment of Al Jazeera I-Unit’s documentary Gold Mafia shows that Rudland’s empire includes a string of companies in South Africa and Dubai that seamlessly wash billions of rands in illegal profits made by his Johannesburg firm Gold Leaf Tobacco Corporation (GLTC).

The new evidence comes in the wake of explosive details showing how Rudland’s ‘Gold Leaf Mafia’ corrupted senior officials at leading South African banks to help launder his massive ill-gotten wealth and move it to safe havens offshore.

Episode 3 reveals:

  • Rudland has funded the R10 billion purchase of a Johannesburg-based gold refinery

  • International corruption watchdogs have questioned why the sale failed to undergo proper scrutiny by authorities

  • The refinery’s sole registered director is Raees Saint, who is also the lawyer for Gold Leaf Tobacco

  • Secret documents show the real owner is Howie Baker, so-called ‘chief operating officer of the Gold Leaf Mafia’

Lakshmi Kumar, policy director of international watchdog Global Financial Integrity, tells the I-Unit: “The fact that they were able to buy Rappa is problematic. It’s a well-known refinery. Why wasn’t there more scrutiny over who buys it? There is complete control of all aspects of the money-laundering scheme.”

Tax Justice South Africa (TJSA) founder Yusuf Abramjee says: “The latest breath-taking revelations about Simon Rudland’s Gold Leaf Mafia demand urgent investigation by law agencies at home and abroad.

“It is now evident that our banks have been corrupted, regulatory authorities are being bypassed and billions of rands of our money is filling the bank accounts of criminals overseas.

“Our leaders cannot dismiss this as simply the problems of another country. Money that’s meant to build a better South Africa for all is being stolen to enrich transnational organised crimelords.

“The South African government has a duty to protect our money. It must ensure that those responsible for regulation and enforcement here are doing their jobs. It must demand that Dubai is held to account for its own lax monetary controls.

“And it must act immediately so that the criminals identified and exposed in this investigation are locked up, their hugely destructive businesses are shut down and their stolen riches are returned to the South African people.

“TJSA repeats its call for South African law enforcement and the FBI, Interpol, Dubai, Zimbabwean and other authorities to act and act right now.  We need immediate, urgent and decisive action to stop the lawlessness and bring the culprits to book.”

>>>Watch Episode 3 here: