Congo-Brazzaville: The Cobra that never left

There is hardly any antagonism between communities or ethnic groups or regions. The violence here is largely the result of conflict between leaders whose ambitions know no limit and no decency. These leaders have around them some hard-core followers, armed to the teeth. They have made the entire people of the Congo hostages of their blind ambition. It is not the people, their communities or even their political parties who are driving this confrontation. They are!” – UN Special Envoy Mohammed Sahnoun (E Leonard, UN envoy says Congo leaders consumed by ambition, Reuters, United Nations, 26 September 1997).

Just as the internet is blocked and social media blackout. The Presidential Elections is happening in Congo-Brazzaville. Where the Self-Styled President for Life, General Denis Sassou-Nguesso is running for his fourth term. Not shockingly his anticipated to win and certainly by a landslide. 

Though he ran the nation for 12 years between 1980 to 1992. Where he ran it as a one-party state. The General had total control and this is persistent to this day. After he overthrow the elected government again in 1997. Since, then he has never looked back and power. He has held this office for 36 years with the two consecutive terms.

Sassou-Nguesso is the “emperor” who like others are not only planning to run another term as President for 5 years. This means he would be running the nation for most of the time since 1980. The General with his strict discipline and his “nice suits”.

Just like others who rules for life. They are planning for their sons to takeover. The Cobra or the Emperor is no different. There is speculation that his planning for Denis Christel to takeover from him. His the planned successor and heir to the throne.

The General have used force against the opposition. The Emperor have used tricks that is common for leaders like him. He has used violence, detained, silenced media and brutally deported 250,000 immigrants from the DRC. Therefore, his not a “benevolent” dictator. His just another one of them and enjoys the perks of the highest office.

That is why he can siphon money to France. Buy weapons from Azerbaijan. While still securing debt-relief by western donors. That is the sort of man the Cobra is.

He has in the past promised “The Way Forward” but that always includes him and he never let it go. Now that he has power. He will never let it go. The Cobra will stay and the Emperor has no intention of leaving office. Even when the public has already voted him out once.

Today will not make a difference or any changes. The man is installing himself in power. Just like he did in 1980 and in 1997. All the promises and pledges of the past doesn’t matter. The election is only made to legitimize himself. We know that plenty of the militia members that got him to power either is in a high rank in the army or been vital in his Presidential Security Guard.

None of the previous elections have been deemed “free and fair” but have stated as “not free and fair”. We can expect the patronage and the ones loyal to him to be happy. The President and his men will be giddy. The rigged election and the preparation for the next term is already in play. Just like the laws was ushered in to allow him to stand again. Therefore, everything is in the making to make it happen.

A general like Denis will not let-go and he will not risk it either. The way he has gone after every enemy and opposition. He knows he cannot just step-down. They might want to investigate him and litigate his actions. That the Cobra and Emperor cannot accept. He got to reign supreme and no one else is supposed to that in Brazzaville. Peace.

UN Expert Report says that DRC gold smuggling increased during COVID-19 lockdown to Burundi and Rwanda…

Yet again there are exploits of conflicts and the resources. The latest UN Group of Experts Report on the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) establishes this fact. This isn’t a shocking revelation, as this has persisted for so long. The illicit and trade of minerals in the DRC to the neighbours have been going on for years. Where the militias and other “rebel” outfits have exploited the porous borders.

What was striking was a few of the sentences and that this of business continues. That the ones enriching themselves continues in haste. Producing, exporting and trading illicit gold. This is being exploited and extracted in the DRC. Later illegally exported to Burundi and Rwanda. We know this also happens to Uganda in the report. However, they have not stated the scale there. As we know the Gold Refinery in Entebbe for illegal gold exports.

Here is excerpts from the Report:

Three mining authorities confirmed that cross-border gold smuggling between South Kivu (see S/2020/482, annex 45) and Burundi and Rwanda had increased during the COVID-19 lockdown. Two authorities explained that this was because, while gold production continued, border closures reduced the value of dollars hand-carried into the Democratic Republic of the Congo for illicit gold transactions. According to official mining data, 30.6 kg of gold were officially exported from South Kivu between January and October 2020, while official gold production was 7.1557 kg between January and September 2020 according to mining authority data” (United Nations Experts Report December 2020, P: 19, 2020).

The Group noted that, as was also the case in 2019 (see S/2020/482, annex 16), as of October 2020 official recorded gold production for South Kivu was far lower than the volume of gold exported. Total gold production as of September 2020 was 7155.7 grams, while exports were 30.6 kilograms for the year up to October 2020. Following the COVID-19 border closures, only two gold trading comptoirs – Etablissement Namukaya and Etablissement ML – exported gold in the second half of 2020 until the time of drafting this report. Bukavu-based gold trading house Mines Propres SARL suspended its operations in South Kivu as of February 2020, but confirmed to the Group that construction of Congo Gold Raffinerie (see S/2020/482, annex 25) continued in its place (Karim Somji, an associate of Congo Gold Raffinerie also owns Mines Propres SARL” (United Nations Experts Report December 2020, P: 186, 2020).

This here story isn’t a new, but it shows a pattern. Where there is more production than recorded. More gold produced than what is initially registered. This here is proof of the illicit trade, as the records itself states.

The Est. Namukaya is even mentioned an export to Kampala to Muzira Bravia Ltd. A company the UN Group of Experts couldn’t find in a registry. Therefore, that is easy an front and not the true company who imported this gold. That could easily be another concealment.

However, all this here just shows that its big business to trade gold illegally and illicit trade of conflict minerals. Where the DRC is not getting reported wealth out of their resources. While the militias and others are profiting on the mines. That is reality of this. Peace.

UN Report: 95% of Ugandan Gold Exports with other Origin [AGR registered in Seychelles]

gold is gold, and they simply need gold” – Gold Smugglers (UN, 2020, P: 19).

The newest UN Group of Experts Report on the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was just recently published. This article here will focus on the gold smuggling operation and the amount of smuggled gold to Uganda from the DRC. This report really states the amount and the way the Ugandan exporters are trading the gold from there. The direct connection between these Republics are clear. This has been stated before, but not to these levels.

If your thinking this sort of business is clean and done after protocol. Then this report will shatter and break the glass. This report is explaining and showing more intelligence on how its done. We can easily see that the Ugandan authorities and the Entebbe Gold Refinery are only having its ability to be trading and minting the gold on the basis of gold smuggling from the DRC.

Just look:

The Group estimated, using information published by the Ugandan authorities, that over 95 per cent of gold exports from Uganda were of non-Ugandan origin for 2019” (UN, 2020, P: 20).

The next part is a proof of a way of illegal export and gold smuggling. Where there is one company operating doing so and how they are registered. While other bodies are claiming they are fraud. This shows what sort of ways the traders, smugglers and exporters are doing to be able to deal with the gold. What is really striking is the way the supposed fraudulent corporation are using all sorts of means to operate. They are even using bank accounts for other companies, which in the end might be a sign of illegal activity. As they are keeping everything of the books.

Vaya Forex Bureau forgery:

The Group found however that during the reporting period, sanctioned entity Uganda Commercial Impex (UCI) Ltd (CDe.009) retained an active business registration according to publicly available Uganda Registration Service Bureau information. The Group also noted that, according to an official ICGLR gold export certificate, Vaya Forex Bureau in Uganda acted as an intermediary in an official gold export (see para. 87 of this report). Incorporated in 2007, the two shareholders of Vaya Forex Bureau were Vaya Kiran Rajendra and Vaya Vipal Kumar Maganlal, family members of Rajendra “Raju” Vaya, owner of sanctioned entity of Machanga Ltd (CDe.007) (see S/2015/19, annex 63). The Group wrote to Vaya Forex Bureau but did not receive a response by the time of writing this report. Finally, the Group noted that, according to publicly available Uganda Registration Service Bureau information, Sameer Bhimji was a signatory on the bank accounts of The Bullion Refinery Ltd (see S/2018/1133, para. 97) until 23 April 2019” (UN, 2020, P: 72).

AGR told the Group that “a so called Vaya Forex Bureau” was unknown to the company and did not hold an account with AGR. The company further stated that they considered that the ICGLR document may be a “forgery” or “fraud” and that the company had already been the target of several such attacks. The company further committed to preventing forgery or fraud, and to reporting such activities to relevant Ugandan authorities and to relevant authorities abroad, as well as “instituting criminal and civil proceedings against the perpetrators”” (UN, 2020, P: 101).

What is more interesting is that the AGR in Entebbe has switched owners and is also registered in the Seychelles. What is known about the Seychelles in this manner is that they usually is confidential and tax-exempt to a degree. This means the AGR is run most likely in a tax-haven by its owners. While they are earning their profits. That is how I crack this one down. They wouldn’t have registered the company there after selling its stakes. If there wasn’t any benefits in doing so. Right?

Here is the information about AGR:

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).

We already know the AGR has connections to the President and his family. Therefore, the move of liabilities to Seychelles is to safeguard the profits in a tax-haven. There is no other way to see it. This is so the future state will be in more trouble to follow the money and also get the accounts frozen by authorities.

This is it for today. Peace.

UN Experts Report says NDC-R finance itself on illegal gold trade to Uganda and Burundi

Again, there is illegal gold trade to the neighbour republics of the Democratic Republic of Congo. This time its the NDC-R whose trading illegal gold to Uganda and Burundi. That means the militia is funnelling funds by illegal mining and trading. Also, that the Ugandan and Burundian authorities are earning fortunes on the soldiers of fortunes in the province of North Kivu.

However, this is not really new that militias and that there is illegal gold trade in the Great Lakes region from the DRC. What was new now, is that athe NDC-R is involved in this. There been other groups in the past and shown that the African Gold Refinery (AGR) of Entebbe, the refinery owned by Gen. Salim Selah, the half-brother of the President Museveni have been involved in this trade. Also, selling the gold to the United Arab Emirates. Therefore, what is in this months report. Shows, another pattern, but says what militia who does it. Which is an interesting tale, as the illegal trade is boosting the NDC-R and their capabilities to cause havoc in the province.

NDC-R:

The Group has found that the armed group Nduma défense du Congo-Rénové (NDC-R) has remained active in North Kivu and has continued to recruit and expand. NDC-R engaged in fighting with the Collectif des mouvements pour le changement (CMC) comprised of Nyatura factions, the Alliance des patriotes pour un Congo libre et souverain (APCLS) and FDLR-FOCA in Masisi and Rutshuru territories” (Midterm report of the Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, P: 6, 20.12.2019).

Financing of the militia:

A senior NDC-R combatant with first-hand knowledge of the matter and three NDC-R members recounted that gold sales brokered by close relatives of Guidon, who sold to gold buying houses in Goma, also generated cash for the movement. Sales were cash-based and were not usually documented. The Group is aware of two occasions on which senior NDC-R ex-combatants sold gold to buyers in Uganda and one on which they did so in Burundi” (Midterm report of the Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, P: 10, 20.12.2019).

This is a worrying sign. Not that its new, but this shows how the NDC-R is financed. Through illicit financing through illegal gold-mining and illegal gold trade. There been trade between Butembo/Goma and over to Entebbe through back-channels. If the NDC-R does this, that wouldn’t be shocking either. Not that the UN Experts Report is specific about this matter.

However, it again reveals more details and reports about one specific group. Which is interesting for the world to know. That it happens to be a group, which has FDLR-FOCA fighters is even more special. Since, there been reports of meetings and supporting arms to them over the last few years. Therefore, the revelation of NDC-R connection with FDLR-FOCA opens more questions, than what it answers. Peace.

New details in the UN Experts Report: On the Illegal Gold Export from Butembo to Uganda!

This is now more than known, that the Gold Refinery in Entebbe is a source of gold from Democratic Republic of Congo. Where the illicit gold export persists. This is a problem, where the state are not able to catch and the wealthy traders in Butembo/Bukavu bribe the local government associates. This here is showing how the President of Uganda and his family is involved in the illegal trading of gold. As the African Gold Refinery, which the First Family is owning is involved in. They are not transparent and for the reason, that the state doesn’t want to take responsibility for this trade.

“Several sources associated with gold trade told the Group that wealthy traders in Butembo and Bukavu or buyers in transit countries and Dubai financed the smugglers, enabling them to buy gold and transport it to foreign markets. Two sources directly involved in such transactions with gold traders based in Butembo told the Group that traders with no affiliation with the gold trade lent money to their bosses. The latter used the money in order to buy gold in Butembo. Traders who lent money were paid back in cash, either in Kampala or in Dubai, by those who received gold. The Group believes that circumventing the banking system through gold-based financial transactions generates a lack of transparency and violates the recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force as reflected in Congolese legislation” (Final report of the Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, P: 35-36, 2019).

“Uganda declared gold exports of 12,000 kg, but the United Arab Emirates said that it had received 21,044 kg of gold from Uganda” (…) “The Group noted that, at the time of writing, the authorities of Uganda had failed to send the Group the report of their investigations into the activities of Kampala-based gold traders, as officials had promised. On 16 January 2019, the Group met with representatives of African Gold Refinery Ltd. (AGR) at AGR premises in Entebbe, Uganda, and discussed in particular the fact that AGR had yet to provide the names of its suppliers to the Group” (Final report of the Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, P: 36, 2019).

This is just verified reports from the United Nations Experts, whose investigated it. They have digging deeper. The Report is continuing to show how the state is benefiting of the illegal trade, as long as the Democratic Republic of Congo is missing it. They are being looted by illegal logging, trading, smuggling and not doing due diligence of the mineral resources produced there.

The Ugandan authorities doesn’t care that this is stolen and not verified, as the refinery is showing that they are not caring about the production or the proper protocol of the mineral production, as long as they are profiting from the illicit trade. This is the moral of the story, as the elites of Kampala are eating of the illegal trade. They are doing this and continuing to do so. Peace.

UN Experts Report expose illegal Gold Export to Uganda!

Again and again, the UN Experts are getting validated sources of mineral exports, which are ending up in the hands of the Gold Refinery in Entebbe, Uganda and ending in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. These stories continues, as the National Resistance Movement (NRM) and President Museveni are taking advantage of the lack of authorities and control of the borders. That is why the Ugandan can get the illicit gold and earn fortunes of the trade.

They are forging documents and doing so by tricking customs and ways. To ensure, the gold goes from Bukavu to Entebbe into the hands of the AGR. The company, which happens to run by Gen. Salim Selah, the brother of the President. The State House of Uganda is earning fortunes on the illicit trade of gold and forging the gold sources even.

Take a look:

In addition, the Group found that Ugandan authorities lacked a coherent policy to combat smuggling. The Group also found that Kampala-based gold exporters did not have an efficient system to avoid the contamination of their supply chains with illegally traded gold from the Democratic Republic of the Congo” (…) “In fact, documents concerning a supplier for AGR obtained by the Group show the risk of contamination of the supply chain with gold illegally sourced or traded from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The supplier, a Congolese national based in Bukavu who provided AGR, in October 2018, with gold worth more than $3 million, travelled with an official document, delivered five months earlier, identifying his occupation as that of an electrician. The supplier declared to AGR that the gold was sourced from the United Republic of Tanzania. Initial investigations conducted by the Group suggested that the individual was used as a broker by many Bukavu-based gold smugglers” (UNSC, 2018).

We have seen these stories before, its still vital and important to show, yet more evidence of the illegal export and illicit trading of the Congolese gold through Ugandan exporters, which happens to be in connection with the President and his brother Gen. Selah. This is common knowledge, but has to be addressed. As the ownership of the AGR is known and also, how that implicates the State House.

This is just a few statements of what they do, but still enough to prove how they do it. As this is very fresh reports and just out from the UNSC and their experts. Peace.

Reference:

United Nations Security Council (UNSC) – ‘Letter dated 18 December 2018 from the Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo addressed to the President of the Security Council’ (31.12.2018)

The Sentry’s new report have been digging into the export of conflict Gold to the Gold Refinery in Entebbe!

The conflict gold trade sustains ruthless armed groups such as the FDLR and Congolese army units that commit mass atrocities, sexual violence, and other human rights abuses against the population of eastern Congo. It is critical that actors in the international community, especially global banks that trade gold and the consumers of gold, know the origins of the precious metal they are buying. More importantly, governments and companies need to take action against the corporate networks that traffic conflict gold and move it into the global economy” (The Sentry, P: 20, 2018)

Just as the Global Witness Report of June 2017 named “Under Mined” and United Nations Security Council Report from June 2018 named “Final report of the Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo”. Today, the Sentry launched today the report named “The Golden Laundromat”. They are all digging into the illegal and sinister gold trade of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the possible money laundering scheme of President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and his brother Gen. Salim Selah. Who is both invested in this operation.

This report is again stating the fact and the reality with this trade. As the Sentry is proving new perspective to the matter. These being their analysis of the documentation of the operation and more into the Goetz business practices, which are vital for the export of these conflict minerals. They are showing the trail from the fields and mines in the DRC to the World Market.

Here is some quotes, which I think was worth taking a minute to digest:

According to interviews conducted and documents obtained by The Sentry, there is a significant risk that AGR sources conflict gold from eastern Congo, and that it imports illegally exported artisanal gold mined in eastern Congo. In 2017, according to documents reviewed by The Sentry, AGR refined and exported 9.3 tons of gold, although the company says it exported 7.7 tons. Several people involved in the trade of Congolese gold with direct knowledge of AGR’s operations told The Sentry that the company sources gold from conflict-affected parts of eastern Congo. Two prominent gold smugglers in eastern Congo acknowledged they sold illegally mined and trafficked gold to AGR from 2016-18, which two South Kivu-based traders confirmed” (The Sentry, P: 8, 2018).

Furthermore, there is at least reason to suspect that AGR buys gold. Trade insiders told The Sentry that AGR buys gold, and Goetz reportedly decides on the price paid to traders, as well as arranging terms and scheduling of payment. Ugandan export records indicate that AGR exports gold: it exported 9.3 tons of gold in 2017, although AGR says it exported 7.7 tons. Goetz’s original AGR project proposal sent to President Museveni in 2014 calls into question the company’s commitment to due diligence. In the document, Goetz, on behalf of Tony Goetz NV, states that AGR should attract gold from the region and that any gold traders who do not have official documents should be allowed to sell gold to AGR but pay a $500 penalty” (…) “From Uganda, AGR’s gold flows to other Goetz-controlled companies in Dubai. The DMCC was scheduled to audit another company in the Goetz network, Tony Goetz NV, in 2017, but no new audit report has been published. Despite the lack of an updated audit, Tony Goetz NV remains a Dubai Good Delivery (DGD) member today. It had passed the DMCC’s audit on responsible practices in 2015 based on its 2014 activities – before AGR was launched” (The Sentry, P: 13, 2018).

According to documents reviewed by The Sentry, Goetz sought the intercession of President Museveni in 2014 in order to gain a 10-year tax break for AGR. Three years later, that became a reality when President Museveni announced a pending zero percent tax rate essentially benefitting only AGR. This, in turn, potentially relates to a fourth FATF AML red flag that is applicable to the Goetz network: registration of a trading company in a tax haven even though its business relates to another jurisdiction. While Uganda is not a traditional tax haven, as a practical matter, it presently serves as one for gold refining since Uganda changed its tax structures on gold to attract gold companies” (The Sentry, P: 17, 2018).

What we are seeing as some would be shocked, other would see the deliberate action of the President to support and earn of the illegal gold trade, also ensure the business in Uganda. That the DRC can be used and illegally export the gold, where the business-partner are acting on behalf of the President that has made the arrangement for the refinery in Uganda. This has been done, while also giving AGR a tax-holiday, so that the production will not be taxed and neither able to follow ordinary customs. That means the President and brother together with Goetz knows perfectly well what happens from the DRC to the World Market. They are earning fortunes on the illegal gold trade and is single-handed securing the profits because of it.

The Sentry has done great work collecting the documentation for this and proving their allegations. As others has done to of late. They have extended their work and shown more meat to the bones. Making it a juicy stake. That is showing the acts of violence and killings in the DRC are benefiting the Ugandan President to this day. He is earning wealth on the misery of the Kivu’s, as they by doing this trade keeping up the in-security there. So, that the illegal gold trade can persist… and linger on.

President Museveni knows this and blames the MONUSCO still for being there to long. But his reach and his hands are in the cookie jar. As it has been since he supported Laurent Kabila to overthrow Mobutu. Peace.

Reference:

The Sentry – ‘The Golden Laundromat – The Conflict Gold Trade from Eastern Congo to the United States and Europe’ October 2018

RDC: Communique de Presse (09.07.2018)

RDC: CLC – Le Peuple Congolais Revendique Haut et Fort son Droit a des Elections Credibles (07.07.2018)

 

Human Rights council discusses situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (05.07.2018)

The committee appealed to government, faith-based organisations, traditional leaders and community organisations to join hands against this scourge that is plaguing our society.

PRETORIA, South Africa, July 5, 2018 – The committee was made aware of the weaknesses and strengths within Sapo and the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) before this process was implemented. Because weaknesses in the implementation of the payment process are now becoming manifest, the committee wants to revisit the roadmap that Sapo presented to the committee and to hear about the progress Sapo has made in its checklist for disbursements.

Such weaknesses include, among other things, long queues, stampedes in post offices, the inability of staff to cope with large numbers of people and the unavailability of enough cash in most areas. This is why the committee wants to understand how far both entities are in working together to ensure that grants are disseminated successfully in future.

The committee has also urged Sassa to improve the way it communicates with South Africans and to do so timeously, particularly when challenges are anticipated. The committee urges Sassa to ensure that frontline staff dealing directly with the public are kind and courteous.

The committee also believes that Sassa should consider alternative ways of using a pin number to access the social grants. It has transpired through provincial reports that a lot of grant beneficiaries, particularly the elderly, easily forget their pin numbers and there was no support system, as had been promised before implementation.

The scourge of sexual assault on children was also before the committee at today’s meeting. Some of the Chapter 9 institutions attending the meeting suggested that poor coordination is failing these vulnerable groups. The committee resolved to ask the Minister of Social Development to take up the matter with the Speaker of the National Assembly and the Leader of Government Business. This serious social challenge requires a response from government, particularly from within the Department of Social Development, which should champion this response.

The committee also sent sincere condolences to all families whose loved ones passed away as a result of a sexual assault. The committee appealed to government, faith-based organisations, traditional leaders and community organisations to join hands against this scourge that is plaguing our society.