Congo Gold Still Funding Rebels
Sanction busters are smuggling 40 tonnes of gold annually out of the Democratic Republic of Congo, a United Nations official has told the BBC. Dino Mahtani said most of the gold was controlled by rebel groups who use the proceeds to buy arms.
Mr Mahtani, who is due to report to a meeting of the UN Security Council this week, said: “This money helps sustain them [the armed groups] in the field. “Most gold is shipped to Dubai via Uganda,” he added.
Mr Mahtani, who co-ordinates UN arms embargo experts, told BBC File on 4: “Recently there was a a Congolese Senate report which talked of roughly $1.24bn (£739m) worth of gold or 40 tonnes of material smuggled out on a yearly basis without any customs declaration.”
He said the profits of this trade run into several millions of US dollars, which goes back to the armed groups in charge of the illicit trade. “A lot of this gold is controlled by armed group networks, in particular the FDLR, which is a Rwandan-based rebel group partly composed by members involved in the 1994 genocide and who continue to operate in eastern Congo,” he said.
He added that the gold trade is one of the most significant avenues of direct finance for the armed groups. Uganda is a key conduit from DR Congo to the world market in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. Once the gold leaves Dubai it is virtually untraceable.
A Human Rights Watch report in 2005 revealed gold that arrived in the country with no documentation left as a legitimate export, and linked Ugandan businessmen to rebel forces in Congo.
UN ban Between 1995 and 2006, gold was in Uganda’s top three exports from a country that does not produce its own gold.