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Billions in African Gold smuggled to UAE yearly – says report

Swissaid said the UAE was the main destination for Africa’s smuggled gold and took in 405 tonnes in 2022. Over the previous decade, UAE accepted more than 2,500 tonnes of smuggled gold with a total value of over $115 billion, the organisation said.

Gold smuggling out of Africa, mainly to the United Arab Emirates, has surged over the last decade, with hundreds of tonnes of gold worth tens of billions of dollars illegally leaving the continent every year, according to a report published on Thursday.

Analysis by Swissaid, an organisation that focuses on development aid and advocacy, found that a total of 435 tonnes of gold, mostly mined by small-scale miners and worth more than $30 billion, was smuggled out of Africa in 2022.

Swissaid said the UAE was the main destination for Africa’s smuggled gold and took in 405 tonnes in 2022. Over the previous decade, UAE accepted more than 2,500 tonnes of smuggled gold with a total value of over $115 billion, the organisation said.

Asked to comment on the findings, a UAE official said that the country had taken significant steps to address concerns about gold smuggling and implemented new regulations on gold and other precious metals.
The scale of the flow underscores how small scale, or artisanal, mining has mushroomed into an industry involving millions of people producing volumes of gold on a par with or even bigger than industrial mining.

In 2019, a Reuters investigation found that billions of dollars’ worth of gold was being smuggled out of Africa every year through the UAE, which served a gateway to markets in Europe, the United States and beyond.

Aside from the loss in tax revenues, experts and governments have warned that smuggling on this scale indicates a vast parallel illicit economy vulnerable to potential money laundering, terrorist finance and sanctions evasion.

Marc Ummel, the commodities lead at Swissaid and one of the authors of the report, said the UAE contributes to gold laundering because large quantities of smuggled gold acquire a legal existence by transiting through the UAE. – (New Zimbabwe)

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