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Press Release

SA banks corrupted in Gold Leaf Tobacco’s multi-million-dollar money-laundering – Al Jazeera

Thursday 30 March 2023 – SENSATIONAL new evidence is released today showing how some of South Africa’s major banks have been infiltrated and corrupted to help launder billions of rand for the region’s biggest illicit cigarette kingpin.

The second instalment of Al Jazeera’s Gold Mafia investigation throws the spotlight on the criminal activities of Simon Rudland, boss of Gold Leaf Tobacco Corporation (GLTC), based in Sandton.

Whistleblowers with intimate knowledge of Rudland’s operations reveal how he was able to send billions of rand of dirty money to safe bank accounts around the world while evading the attentions of the SA Reserve Bank.

Rudland’s chief money launderer Mohamed Khan, known as ‘Mo Dollars’, was able to:

  • Infiltrate some of South Africa’s biggest banks – including Sasfin, Standard Bank and Absa – and recruit senior staff to hide their criminal dealings

  • Create fake bank accounts, often using IDs stolen or bought from homeless people, and generate bogus invoices with fictitious companies using details scraped off the internet

  • Use bank stooges to hire unqualified personnel who ultimately helped to erase all official evidence of multi-million-dollar transactions

Dawood Khan, brother of and key forger for ‘Mo Dollars’, says GLTC was set up to launder money from the outset. Within months, their network was ‘washing’ millions of US dollars for Rudland in single transactions via the Sasfin bank.

He tells investigators: “Gold Leaf Tobacco had the capability within Sasfin to move massive amounts of money, not questioned because we had respective eyes in the bank overlooking the entire process. 99% of all GLT payments were money-laundering, fraudulent transactions.”

Shocking testimony from Mohamed Khan’s former wife of 19 years describes how she collected millions of rand in payments for her husband from “the cigarette guys” at a regular rendezvous in the undercover car park of a Johannesburg shopping mall.

“The day when I left him, there was R15 million there – 15 million rand cash in our houses, in suitcases,” she says.

The South African Revenue Service (SARS) obtained a High Court order in August to freeze the assets of GLTC and Rudland over allegations of unpaid taxes totalling R3 billion.

However, GLTC continues to operate and today dominates the country’s massive black market in tax-evading cigarettes that robs the state of over R20 billion a year.

Tax Justice SA founder Yusuf Abramjee: “Such damning evidence of industrial-scale money-laundering demands that authorities take immediate action against Simon Rudland and his criminal enterprises in South Africa. Banks and financial authorities must also act urgently against their officials who are implicated.

“These crooks are leeching our economy, corrupting our institutions and destroying our honest, hard-working businesses.

“South Africa will be greylisted for ever, denied international investment and impoverished if we don’t act immediately against the criminals identified here.

“We call on the FBI, Interpol, SAPS, SA Reserve Bank and SARS to show their commitment to fighting crime and corruption. Authorities must lock these criminals up and close down their businesses.”

Scheduled broadcast on Al Jazeera (DStv 406) from 22:00-23:00 on Thursday March 30.
Available for streaming at