Home » Sanctioned billionaire Kudakwashe Tagwirei allegedly made $24 million in corrupt deals off Zimbabwe

Sanctioned billionaire Kudakwashe Tagwirei allegedly made $24 million in corrupt deals off Zimbabwe

by Ishioma Emi

A recent investigation by The Sentry has revealed that Zimbabwean businessman Kudakwashe Tagwirei allegedly used complex corporate structures and preferential government treatment to loot Zimbabwe’s economy. 

Over the years, the billionaire has used the wealth of an entire nation to build a business empire that includes a vast network of more than 40 companies spanning the oil, mining, banking, logistics, transportation and import and export sectors. 

In a recent Twitter post, Zimbabwean journalist and documentary filmmaker Hopewell Chin’ono said: “Kudakwashe Tagwirei’s Landela was used to loot your money.”

Masked to appear like every other decent person in business, he concealed his control over this empire through an elaborate foreign network, hiding his wealth and ownership through offshore financial structures. Ultimately, Tagwirei held Zimbabwe’s economy in his palm.

In a statement, Director of Illicit Finance Policy at The Sentry Justyna Gudzowska said the report presents a textbook case of how far shady businessmen will go to avoid due diligence requirements from financial institutions. 

“Global banks cannot assume that they are safe from such manipulations just because they have a limited footprint in Zimbabwe,” Gudzowska said. “Enablers can be located in any jurisdiction, and financial institutions should be on continuous alert for possible money laundering and suspicious activity.”

In August 2020, the U.S. Treasury sanctioned Tagwirei and other Zimbabwean elites for derailing economic development and harming the Zimbabwean people through corruption. 

According to the sanctions, since former President Robert Mugabe’s forced departure in 2017, “Tagwirei used a combination of opaque business dealings and his ongoing relationship with President Mnangagwa to grow his business empire dramatically and rake in millions of U.S. dollars.”

Tagwirei is a close friend and official advisor to President Emmerson Mnangagwa. He has leveraged his relationships with high-level Zimbabwean officials to win state contracts and receive privileged access to hard currency, including U.S. dollars. In return, he gifted government officials luxury items like expensive cars.

The SentryThe Sentry is an investigative and policy news site that follows the dirty money connected to African war criminals and transnational war profiteers. It is on a mission to shut those benefiting from violence out of the international financial system.

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