US sanctions Ugandan gold refinery for contributing to Congo conflict

The Treasury Department sanctioned the African Gold Refinery in Uganda, businessman and operator Alain Goetz and other companies on Thursday for contributing to conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The department said the sanctions placed on Goetz and the companies was due to their involvement “in the illicit movement of gold valued at hundreds of millions of dollars per year from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).”

The sanctions make it so all the possessions the U.S. controls of the individual or companies will be blocked. 

The illegal movement of gold funds armed groups that continue the violence in DRC.

“Conflict gold provides the largest source of revenue to armed groups in eastern DRC where they control mines and exploit miners,” Brian E. Nelson, under secretary of the Treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence, said.

“Alain Goetz and his network have contributed to armed conflict by receiving DRC gold without questioning its origin. Treasury has been very clear: global gold markets, at every step of the supply chain, must engage in responsible sourcing and conduct supply-chain due diligence,” he added. 

Goetz denounced the sanctions in a statement to Bloomberg, saying he is no longer in charge of the African Gold Refinery. 

The statement by the department “seems to indicate that their research is solely based on open-source reports by non-governmental organizations, which have previously been proven to be incorrect or biased in their reporting,” he told the outlet. 

“The African Gold Refinery has been a model company that has contributed to the growth of Uganda and the region since inception, by improving the fiscal transparency in the regional gold trade while operating in full accordance with national, regional and international regulatory frameworks,” Goetz added. “Given the chance, we will be able to demonstrate the virtuousness of our initiatives and hopefully the unfair and unjust sanctions will be lifted.”

Ugandan Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Henry Oryem Okello said they are concerned with the sanctions and will respond after receiving them, according to Bloomberg.

Tags Alain Goetz Democratic Republic of the Congo

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