Documents reviewed and interviews conducted for “The Golden Laundromat: The conflict gold trade from eastern Congo to the United States and Europe,” raise serious concern that the corporate network controlled by Belgian tycoon Alain Goetz has refined illegally-smuggled conflict gold from eastern Congo at the African Gold Refinery (AGR) in Uganda and then exported it through a series of companies to the United States and Europe, potentially including Amazon, GE, and Sony.
The United States, European Union, and United Nations Security Council should take action to sanction gold smuggling companies and networks. Anti-money laundering measures should also be implemented to alert financial institutions on conflict and high-risk gold from East and Central Africa, highlighting in particular the significant risks presented by the trade in conflict gold from Congo.
Violent clashes in gold-rich Beni, Ituri, and other areas of eastern Congo have left thousands of people dead and hundreds of thousands more displaced. Although these conflicts began for other reasons, and significant political and other dynamics are key factors in them, the illicit gold trade has been a fuel for both conflict and corruption. According to the United Nations, conflict gold provides the largest source of revenue to armed actors in the conflict in eastern Congo, where more than 5.4 million people have died. An estimated $300 to $600 million worth of gold is smuggled out of Congo each year.
International due diligence, responsible minerals audits, and anti-money laundering frameworks were established in order to combat corruption and the deadly conflict minerals trade. Refiners that fail such audits, and that do not adhere to such guidance yet continue to sell their minerals internationally must face steep consequences, or else there will be no change in the conflict gold trade. The activities of such refiners and other companies in the supply chain are a primary obstacle to increasing the conflict-free, responsible gold trade from Congo, which can help de-link the gold trade from conflict and help the Congolese people benefit from their natural resources.
👇Take Action Now: The United States, European Union, and United Nations Security Council should investigate and, if appropriate, sanction gold refining and trading companies and their owners that are found to be involved in activities that threaten Congo’s peace, security, or stability through the illicit trade in natural resources. The US and Europe and East African countries should also combat money laundering associated with conflict gold through anti-money laundering measures.