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On Thursday, the Treasury Department announced sanctions targeting Belgian businessman Alain Goetz and African Gold Refinery, an Uganda-based business that since 2014, has participated in illicit gold trading, according to Treasury officials.
The company is among several linked to Goetz that are “involved in the illicit movement of gold valued at hundreds of millions of dollars per year” from Congo, the Treasury Department said in a statement.
The illicit movement of gold threatens Congo’s peace and stability, it said, charging that more than 90% of Congo’s gold is smuggled to neighboring countries such as Uganda and Rwanda where it’s “then often refined and exported to international markets, particularly the UAE.”
‘Blood Gold’ kills Blacks and enriches Whites.
Smuggling is the issue. Many miners in the Congo have been captured, beaten, or much worse during their trek across the border, yet the U.S. sanctions could have an immediate life-saving impact.
The new sanctions include the blocking of U.S.-based assets owned by Goetz and his companies. Goetz denied the allegations in a statement emailed to The Associated Press, saying he has no recent business dealings with Congo. “I have not been to (Congo) in more than 20 years,” he said. “I have not kept any active contacts within (Congo) either.”
The African Gold Refinery, worth $15 million and the first of its kind in East Africa, drew attention over the years from activists concerned that minerals from conflict-prone countries in the region were among its raw materials.
The value of gold exports from Uganda has risen steeply in recent years, though not much is mined locally. Artisanal miners produce small quantities, but gold is Uganda’s second most valuable export commodity, after coffee, according to government figures.
Sanctions set to have a crippling effect.
As a result of the sanctions, according to the Treasury Dept:
“All property and interests in property of these persons that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons are blocked and must be reported to OFAC.
In addition, any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by one or more blocked persons are also blocked. Unless authorized by a general or specific license issued by OFAC or otherwise exempt, OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit all dealings by U.S. persons or within (or transiting) the United States that involve any property or interests in property of designated or otherwise blocked persons. U.S. persons may face civil or criminal penalties for violations of E.O. 13413.”
Though these sanctions are rooted in Uganda, 21.8 of the 73.2 gold tons exported by Venezuelan Central Bank, (BCV)in 2018 were bought by Goetz Gold LLC, a Belgian company with offices in Dubai. It is being investigated by anti-corruption agencies in Europe and Africa for trading in “blood gold”, defined as metal extracted in areas of conflict, financing crime and wars, and promoting the violation of human rights.