“gold is gold, and they simply need gold” – Gold Smugglers (UN, 2020, P: 19).
Today on the 17th March 2022 the U.S. Treasury has sanctioned the African Gold Refinery and Alain Goetz. This is hitting the Government of Uganda (GoU) which has been proud of this refinery. They are directly hitting the profitability and ability to trade. As the AGR will be blacklisted and possibly make it harder sell it’s gold.
In the U.S. Treasury statement today, it said this:
“Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), sanctioned Alain Goetz, the African Gold Refinery in Uganda, and a network of companies involved in the illicit movement of gold valued at hundreds of millions of dollars per year from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The illicit movement of gold provides revenue to armed groups that threaten the peace, security, and stability of the DRC. Today’s action was taken pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13413, as amended by E.O. 13671, which targets, among other things, individuals and entities involved in activities that threaten the peace, security, or stability of the DRC or that undermine democratic processes or institutions in the DRC. Our action demonstrates the U.S. commitment to disrupt the illicit mineral trade and encourage mining sector transparency” (U.S. Treasury – ‘ Treasury Sanctions Alain Goetz and a Network of Companies Involved in the Illicit Gold Trade’ 17.03.2022).
Where it further states:
“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 that are involved in destabilizing activities in South Kivu, DRC. AGR has a refining capacity of 219 tons per year and is considered one of the largest gold refineries in Africa, after refineries in South Africa and Ghana. AGR and Goetz acknowledged that a share of the gold AGR refines comes directly from mines in the DRC and has taken over a significant portion of the market for gold trafficked from the DRC” (U.S. Treasury – ‘ Treasury Sanctions Alain Goetz and a Network of Companies Involved in the Illicit Gold Trade’ 17.03.2022).
The U.S. Treasury isn’t taking this information from nowhere. This has been recorded and proven through United Nations Experts reports over the years. The Entebbe Gold Refinery has been tracked and so has all the illicit minerals, which has gotten to it. It has been taken from conflicts and been a valuable commodity for the militias inside the Democratic Republic of Congo, which trough various of channels has traded it with the AGR. Who again has sold it to the world market.
Back in 2020, there was further proof of how it was operated as:
““The Group established that, on 9 February 2018, African Gold Refinery Ltd sold its shares to AGR International Ltd, a company registered in the Seychelles at Global Gateway, 8 rue de la Perle, Providence, Mahe, Seychelles (see screenshot below). The Group wrote to the authorities of the Seychelles, who confirmed that AGR International Ltd was registered in the Seychelles at the address listed in the Uganda Registration Services Bureau documents” (UN, 2020, P: 107).
So, this corporation will have international implications. It will not only go after Goetz or AGR. This will go even further with time. A Belgian report on the Refinery in 2019 said this:
“Sources in government refer to a speech by the Ugandan president at the ceremonial opening of AGR in 2017. Museveni then said that government agencies opposing the refinery would be ‘tackled hard’. ‘Goetz feels unassailable. And not without reason. He clearly has the protection of President Museveni himself’, says investigative journalist Haggai Matsiko of the Ugandan monthly The Independent. ‘Goetz has put a lot of money into its project (AGR says it has already invested $40 million, ed.). The president seems convinced that the refinery adds economic value by turning Entebbe and Kampala into a gold hub.’” (Kasper Goethals – ‘‘Gold is a dirty business, even if I do say so myself’ 20.04.2019, De Standaard).
With this in mind, this is a major blow to the wishes of President Museveni. The U.S. is sanctioning it and setting a precedence of which makes transactions with it questionable. Yes, at this moment it is about trading and association with U.S. businesses and citizens. Alas, the AGR is a prestigious part of the gold adventure Museveni wanted to have.
Let us not forget the June 2017 Global Witness Report “Under-Mined” on the AGR, which stated this:
“African Gold Refinery is run by a small group of Belgian and Ugandan businessmen, including former government minister Richard Kaijuka, who are managing to ship hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of gold out of Uganda without disclosing its origin and paying very little tax in the process. They are the owners and managers of a newly built gold refinery on the shores of Lake Edward near Entebbe airport. Remarkably, Barnabas Taremwa: brother-in-law to Salim Saleh, Museveni’s most famous brother and Uganda’s de facto number two, told Global Witness that he had helped negotiate the company’s huge tax breaks with the government (corroborated by documents seen by Global Witness) and set up supply routes for the refinery” (Global Witness, P: 27, 2017).
““Alain Goetz, who is also the CEO of the company, a Belgian national, is one of the most famous dealers of Congolese gold in recent history. During the 90s the Alain and his father Tony, who died in 2005, were reported as dominating gold exports from the Congo through their networks to Belgium and later Dubai” (…) “Mr Barnabas Taremwa, who previously worked for AGR is the brother in law of Salim Saleh, the President’s brother. AGR told Global Witness in a letter dated January 2017 that Taremwa’s sister and Salim Saleh had divorced three years ago, seemingly in an attempt to distance themselves from the General. However, Salim Saleh told Global Witness that “Barnabas Taremwa is still my brother in law and it is false and an insult to me for you to state that I divorced his sister.” (…) “Richard Henry Kaijuka is the Chairman of AGR.160 According to an article in Africa Energy in June 2011, Mr Kaijuka is “a childhood friend of President Yoweri Museveni, who fell out with the regime after he opposed a controversial constitutional amendment in 2005 that removed presidential term limits.” (Global Witness, P: 73, 2017).
So, if you know all of this. You know the AGR is hitting home. This will hit the State House and the Presidency. Not only the pride of selling illicit minerals from militias in the DRC. No, he will not earn profit on the tears and suffering of the DRC anymore. At least not at the same scale or have the possibility of trading it to the United States. This is a proof of the possible damage it can do. This is million of dollars of exports that can be hit by this sanction. Because, AGR is a tainted business…
That is the truth here and it is about time. Reports about it from it’s inception should have been the warning sign. Yes, the official date was back in 2017, but it was operating from 2014. So, there been lost years and the AGR haven’t really complied with proof of where the gold came from and therefore, this is well deserved. Finally, a place which is a hot-spot for conflict minerals get hit with sanctions. Peace.