US sanctions Uganda gold dealer, citing illicit Congo origin

Mar 18, 2022, 3:32 AM | Updated: 11:46 am

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — A Belgian businessman sanctioned by the U.S. over allegations of illicit gold trade in Congo said Friday the action undermines efforts to improve transparency in a region seeing rising official exports of the mineral.

The U.S. announced sanctions late Thursday targeting Alain Goetz and African Gold Refinery, a Uganda-based company that has been in business since 2014. 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.”

Congo’s expansive eastern provinces have long been wracked by sporadic armed conflict, and monitoring groups assert that control of the minerals trade fuels the violence.

The new sanctions include the blocking of U.S.-based assets owned by Goetz and his companies.

But Goetz denied the allegations in a statement emailed to The Associated Press, saying he has no recent business ties 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.”

He warned that sanctions against African Gold Refinery would hurt efforts to improve transparency in the gold business by potentially offering informal traders “a safe haven” again.

“International organizations can now easily verify information and quote figures because of the transparency that I laid a foundation for with the launch of African Gold Refinery,” he said. “This transparency is what the U.S. has just placed at great risk with these sanctions.”

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 refinery, which was inaugurated by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, is located in the lakeside town of Entebbe, about 44 kilometers (27 miles) from the capital, Kampala.

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 regularly is Uganda’s second most valuable export commodity, after coffee, according to government figures.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Strikes, protests hit France in round 2 of pension battle

PARIS (AP) — French labor leaders hope to bring more than 1 million demonstrators again into the streets Tuesday in the latest clash of wills with the government over its plans to push back France’s retirement age. For both sides, the nationwide strikes and protests are an important test. French President Emmanuel Macron’s government says […]
2 hours ago
Currency traders watch monitors at the foreign exchange dealing room of the KEB Hana Bank headquart...
Associated Press

Asian shares fall in muted trading ahead of Fed meeting

TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares mostly fell in muted trading Tuesday as investors awaited decisions on interest rates and earnings reports from around the world. Traders were awaiting the U.S. Federal Reserve’s decision on interest rates, expected on Wednesday. They also were watching for indicators on the Chinese economy, the region’s key engine for growth. […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Boeing bids farewell to an icon, delivers last 747 jumbo jet

SEATTLE (AP) — Boeing bids farewell to an icon on Tuesday: It’s delivering its final 747 jumbo jet. Since its first flight in 1969, the giant yet graceful 747 has served as a cargo plane, a commercial aircraft capable of carrying nearly 500 passengers, a transport for NASA’s space shuttles, and the Air Force One […]
1 day ago
FILE - A worker loads boxes of goods from a truck outside a wholesale clothing mall in Beijing on T...
Associated Press

Chinese factory activity rebounds, adding to recovery signs

BEIJING (AP) — Chinese factory activity rebounded in January from three months of contraction, adding to signs the world’s second-largest economy might be recovering from a painful slump, an official survey showed Tuesday. A monthly purchasing managers’ index issued by the Chinese statistics agency and an industry group rose to 50.1 on a 100-point scale […]
1 day ago
Visitors try out Samsung Electronics' Galaxy Book2 at its shop in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, Jan....
Associated Press

Samsung’s profit plummets amid global economic woes

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Samsung Electronics said Tuesday its profit for the last quarter plummeted nearly 70% as a weak global economy depressed demand for its consumer electronics products and computer memory chips. The company’s operating profit of 4.3 trillion won ($3.5 billion) for the three months through December fell 69% from a year […]
1 day ago
A trishaw driver wades through a crowded street at the frozen Houhai Lake in Beijing, Monday, Jan. ...
Associated Press

IMF upgrades outlook for the global economy in 2023

WASHINGTON (AP) — The outlook for the global economy is growing slightly brighter as China eases its zero-COVID policies and the world shows surprising resilience in the face of high inflation, elevated interest rates and Russia’s ongoing war against Ukraine. That’s the view of the International Monetary Fund, which now expects the world economy to […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

(Desert Institute for Spine Care photo)...
DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Why DISC is world renowned for back and neck pain treatments

Fifty percent of Americans and 90% of people at least 50 years old have some level of degenerative disc disease.
...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet can improve everyday life

Quantum Fiber supplies unlimited data with speeds up to 940 mbps, enough to share 4K videos with coworkers 20 times faster than a cable.
...
Children’s Cancer Network

Children’s Cancer Network celebrates cancer-fighting superheroes, raises funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Jace Hyduchak was like most other kids in his kindergarten class: He loved to play basketball, dress up like his favorite superheroes and jump as high as his pint-sized body would take him on his backyard trampoline.
US sanctions Uganda gold dealer, citing illicit Congo origin