Kamlesh Pattni, also known as brother Paul, is a controversial well connected businessman and a pastor. At the age of 25, he was controlling a number of enterprises including: a bank, an engineering firm, duty free shops, five star hotels and a tour and travel company.
However, he would be thrust into the limelight after being mentioned and implicated in Golderberg scandals in the 90s The case would drag in the courts until 2013 when he was acquitted having maintained his innocence throughout the trial.
Here is the story of Kamlesh Mansukhlai Damji Pattni as told by WoK.
Background and the scandal
He was born in 1965 in Kibokoni area in Mombasa. The suave businessman moved to Nairobi where he endeared himself to the powers that be.
His reputation grew and his company Goldenberg International was contracted by the government and given exclusive rights to export Kenyan gold.
It was then reported that the company devised a way to smuggle gold from Congo and sell it abroad. The scheme became public when a central bank worker, David Munyakei realized he was processing payment for diamond and gold which Kenya did not have.
The whistleblower lost his job as a result. They would also report that no gold was exported despite the payments that had been made. Kenya lost US$600 million (10% of the country’s GDP at the time) in the scandal which implicated a number of politicians in the Moi era government.
Kamlesh was implicated in the scandal before he was cleared years later. It was alleged that he bought the Grand Regency Hotel using proceeds from the money.
To avoid prosecution, he handed over the hotel to the Central Bank of Kenya before it was sold to Libyan investors in another scandalized transaction. The High Court of Kenya acquitted him of the fraud charges levelled against him in 2013.
The controversial businessman vied for the Westlands parliamentary seat under the Kenya National Democratic Alliance (KENDA) in 2007. He urged residents to vote for him and reject leaders who practice tribalism and discrimination. Despite promising people equality and the promotion of their rights, he failed to secure the seat.
Murder charges, religion, and philanthropy
In 2003, he was charged with the murder of a former bodyguard and was incarcerated for a while at Kamiti Maximum Security Prison.
For two years, he proclaimed his innocence saying that he had been framed. He was later acquitted of the charges.
By this time, he had converted from Hinduism to Christianity and been baptized and named Paul.
He went on to become a self proclaimed pastor and a philanthropist running an organization named Hand of God. In 2012, he received the Lifetime Africa Achievement Prize for Humanitarism and Equity by the Ghanaian Excellence Awards.
Zimbabwe gold scandal
The Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit (I-Unit) implicated Patni in a money laundering scheme as part of their four-part Gold Mafia series.
The businessman operates a company in Zimbabwe named Suzan General Trading, which gets paid by the government to export gold. He is also alleged to have trading companies in Dubai.
He promised to help undercover reporters posing as Chinese criminals to launder money. Their dirty money would be turned into gold that would be exported from Zimbabwe to Dubai.
Proceeds from the gold in US dollars would be moved back to the country and declared as money gotten from the sale of Zimbabwe’s gold.
According to him, president of Zimbabwe Emmerson Mnangagwa was aware of his dealings as he believes one must always move with the king.
In the video, he showed them photos of himself with various presidents including former Libya president Muammar Gadaffi, former Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe and former and now late presidents of Kenya, Daniel Moi and Mwai Kibaki.
When reached for comment, he denied the allegations. He said he thought the meeting was with an investor who wanted to buy a stake in hotel businesses and to diversify their China portfolio into buying and mining of gold in Zimbabwe.