US sanctions Alain Goetz over illicit DR Congo gold trade

Belgian businessman Alain Goetz 

What you need to know:

  • In 2018, Goetz acknowledged that AGR refines about 150 kilograms of gold from the DRC weekly, or approximately 8.5 tons a year, valued at $496 million, which represents almost all of Uganda's total gold exports, the statement said.
  • The illicit trade brings gold from the Democratic Republic of the Congo into Uganda and Rwanda, and is a key source of cash for groups that "threaten the peace, security and stability of the DRC," the US Treasury said in a statement. 

The US government on Thursday took action against Belgian businessman Alain Goetz and his African Gold Refinery (AGR) for smuggling millions of dollars worth of precious metal from conflict areas.

The illicit trade brings gold from the Democratic Republic of the Congo into Uganda and Rwanda, and is a key source of cash for groups that "threaten the peace, security and stability of the DRC," the US Treasury said in a statement. 

President Museveni (in white shirt) touring African Gold Refinery (AGR) in 2017 as its proprietor, Belgian businessman Alain Goetz (left) looks on. The US government on March 17, 2022 took action against Goetz and his AGR for smuggling millions of dollars worth of precious metal from conflict areas. PHOTO/ FILE

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

"Alain Goetz and his network have contributed to armed conflict by receiving DRC gold without questioning its origin," Nelson said in a statement.

Goetz operates AGR in Uganda, as well as companies in the United Arab Emirates that receive illicit gold from mines in regions of DRC that are controlled by armed groups, Treasury said.

The sanctions mean all US-based assets owned by Goetz, AGR or its affiliates will be frozen.

In 2018, Goetz acknowledged that AGR refines about 150 kilograms of gold from the DRC weekly, or approximately 8.5 tons a year, valued at $496 million, which represents almost all of Uganda's total gold exports, the statement said.

Since 2016, AGR has sourced illicit gold from mines in regions of DRC that are controlled by armed groups, including the Mai-Mai Yakutumba and Raia Mutomboki, Treasury said.


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