The United States on Thursday sanctioned Belgian businessman Alan Goetz and a cartel linked to him that it accused of being involved in the illicit trade in gold from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The U.S. Treasury Department, in a statement, said among the targets was the African Gold Refinery in Uganda, which Goetz operates, and several other companies he owns or controls. It accused Goetz and the companies of being involved in illegal gold exports valued at hundreds of millions of dollars per year.
Goetz quit the management of his Ugandan gold refinery last year after being found guilty of money laundering in Belgium. He is also facing accusations of tax evasion in Rwanda, where he is a shareholder in another refinery.
The Treasury said a network of gunmen, smugglers and companies generate illicit revenue from the gold industry through forced labour and smuggling. It said the illegitimate movement of gold provides revenue to rebels that threaten peace and security in Congo.
The Treasury’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, Brian Nelson, said in the statement, “Conflict gold provides the largest source of revenue to armed groups in eastern DRC where they control mines and exploit miners.”
“Alain Goetz and his network have contributed to armed conflict by receiving DRC gold without questioning its origin.”
The Treasury said Goetz’s network sources gold from Congo, Kenya, South Sudan and Tanzania.
Others blacklisted companies said to be owned or controlled by Goetz include Orofino, Alaxy, United Arab Emirates-based Agor DMCC and UAE-based Goetz Gold LLC.
The Treasury said that since 2016, the African Gold Refinery, considered one of the largest gold refineries in Africa, has sourced illicit gold from mines in regions of Congo that are controlled by armed groups, including the Mai-Mai Yakutumba and Raia Mutomboki militia. Thursday’s action effectively freezes any U.S. assets of those designated and generally bars Americans from dealing with them.
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