File of suspected smuggled gold sent to DPP, says police

Thursday March 21 2019

Launched. The company currently under

Launched. The company currently under investigation was in 2014 launched by President Museveni. FILE PHOTO  

By Dorothy Nakaweesi

Kampala. Police have sent the file of a company alleged to have been involved in gold smuggling to the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP).
In an interview yesterday Mr Fred Enanga, the police spokesman, told Daily Monitor, they had sent details of their investigations to the DPP for advice.

“The Minerals Police has been investigating this case and have sent the file to Director of Public Prosecution (DPP),” Mr Enanga said, without giving details. He promised to furnish this newspaper with details later. However, he did not provide any more details by press time.

According to police, a consignment of 7.4 tonnes of gold, which is alleged to have been smuggled into the country, was intercepted following a tip off from a whistle blower.
The consignment, worth $300m (Shs1.1 trillion), is alleged to have been smuggled in the country by the Entebbe-based African Gold Refinery company.
Mr Alphonse Katarebe, the African Gold Refinery chief executive yesterday could not comment on the investigations, saying he was out of the country.

However, he said they had furnished Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) with details concerning the consignment of the 7.4 tonnes of gold.
“I am out of the country and I will return next week. Kindly contact my managing director and URA. They [URA] have details. As far as I know, there was no smuggling,” Mr Katarebe said on phone.

Mr Dicksons Kateshumbwa, the URA commissioner for customs, who was also out of the country, said yesterday details obtained from his officers indicated that African Gold Refinery had declared the gold for inward processing, saying: “it wasn’t smuggled in the country.”

Earlier, Mr Enanga, had told journalists that intelligence reports had indicated that African Gold Refinery received a shipment of 3.8 tonnes on March 2, and another shipment of 3.6 tonnes on March 4, which did not pass through official customs entry points, he said.
Recently, New Vision reported that the gold was believed to have originated from Venezuela, which African Gold Refinery refutes, claiming that the gold came from South America without giving more details.

According to February data from Bank of Uganda for the year ending 2018, gold was Uganda’s leading export commodity fetching the country $514.8m (Shs1.8 trillion).
In 2018, Uganda, according to BoU data exported a total of 13,216 kilogrammes of gold.
This was an increase from the 10,380 kilogrammes that were exported in 2017.

Analysts indicate that the increased numbers in gold export could be a result of increased re-exports backed by the refinery plant - Africa Gold Refinery in Entebbe – which was established 2014.
In an earlier interview, Mr John Lwere, the Uganda Export Promotions Board trade and information executive, said they were still studying how much gold Uganda produces.

“…but we believe the refinery at Entebbe is attracting a lot of gold from the region and this is raising the statistics,” he said.
The African Gold Refinery, worth $15m, was officially commissioned in February 2017 by President Museveni.

African gold refinery speaks
“Thank you for giving us a chance to clarify our side. There were some questions raised by the Mineral Police on certain import transactions, however, all the required documents have been provided to them by African Gold Refinery team on the same day. African Gold Refinery transactions are legal and documentations are legitimate,” statement

dnakaweesi@ug.nationmedia.com

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