Daily Management Review

Reuters: Hundreds tons of gold are smuggled from Africa every year


Reuters journalists found that gold worth tens of billions of dollars was illegally exported from Africa every year and the volume of smuggling is constantly growing. The precious metal enters world markets mainly through the UAE.

Reuters investigation, called the New Gold Rush, found that concluded that gold worth tens of billions of dollars is illegally exported from Africa every year. Much of this flow does not fall into export reporting, and producing countries do not receive taxes on it. At the same time, most of the gold, both legally and illegally mined and exported, passes through the UAE and proceeds to Europe, the USA, China and other regions.

Reuters journalists explain that it is impossible to establish the real scale of smuggling of African gold. They tried to find out at least approximate volumes by comparing data on the import of gold in the United Arab Emirates with the data of metal exports from African producers. Thus, according to the customs services of the UAE, in 2016 (the last year for which there is official data), the state imported 446 tons of gold in the amount of $ 15.1 billion from 46 African countries. However, most of this gold is not mentioned in export reporting of the producers. Of the 46 countries, only 21 state provided data on gold exports to the UN, but it is clear that the UAE imported 67 tons more than they exported.

From 2006 to 2016, the share of African gold in imports of gold from the UAE increased from 18% to almost 50%. Gold trading already accounts for almost 20% of the UAE’s GDP.

At the same time, major gold producers operating in Africa, such as AngloGold Ashanti, Sibanye-Stillwater, Gold Fields Limited, told Reuters that they do not trade with the UAE. Most of the medium and small producers, with whom the agency journalists spoke, also do not send their gold to the United Arab Emirates for refining. The main reason is that the refineries in the UAE are not accredited by the London Precious Metals Association (LMBA).

Consequently, the source of a significant part of the precious metal for the UAE are small mining companies or shadow structures that do not have licenses, equipment, and often use the labor of children.

And, as experts told Reuters, it is very easy to take gold out of Africa: it is often transported simply in hand luggage in airplanes. But the laws of the UAE do not prevent the import into the country of gold mined in any way, without paying taxes.

The journalists provided data of their investigation to the governments of 14 African states. Five of them answered that they knew about existence of the problem and were trying to solve it, and told about the measures taken. One state remarked that gold smuggling is not a problem for them. Other countries either refused to comment on the data, or did not respond to the request.

source: reuters.com