A new scandal was added to the crimes of the United Arab Emirates’s regime, as the United Nations condemned Abu Dhabi gold theft, by continuing gold smuggling from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the Emirate of Dubai. The annual report of the Committee of Experts of the United Nations Security Council revealed that such smuggling costs the Congo millions of dollars annually, as well as using the proceeds of smuggling to finance the conflict.
The theft from Congo
For decades, Congo has been suffering a civil war between two tribes that have left hundreds of thousands of people dead as a result of the conflict and has driven tens of thousands to flee to neighboring States. The report indicated that the Emirate of Dubai was taking the lion’s share of gold smuggling from Kinshasa, along with the other African States benefiting from smuggling gangs such as Uganda and Tanzania, depriving the Congo of millions of dollars that it would have received in the form of tax revenues. Nevertheless, the report confirmed that “the profits of gold smuggling operations for Dubai and other African States are being used to prolong the open conflict in the Congo as well as to finance armed militias in the east of the country”, the report confirmed.
In this context, an extensive press investigation also found that Emirates had one of the largest African gold smuggling networks. The press investigation prepared by Michael Rabah for Le Monde suggested that gold thieves were causing chaos in African States. Despite the efforts of the international organizations concerned to regulate the gold market, this market creates unethical practices. Furthermore, a previous Reuters investigation report revealed that Togo is a center for gold smuggling that escapes official trade flows to Dubai.
The UN report indicated that Congo’s official gold exports were approximately 39 kilograms, while official gold production was more than 333 kilograms, according to statistics from the Ministry of Mines in Kinshasa, the capital.
Although it has entered into a number of international conventions and protocols relating to combatting money-laundering and smuggling, the United Arab Emirates continues to take the lead in illicit trade operations.
According to international reports, illicit trade has become a major source of economy in the Emirates. Customs data show that the country imported $15.1 billion worth of gold from Africa in 2016, more than any other country, up from just $1.3 billion in 2006.
Gold theft from Libya and Sudan
However, the United Arab Emirates is leading conspiracies to fuel internal conflicts in several African countries, notably the Sudan and Libya, in order to serve their ambitions, most notably the plundering of gold. The suspicion that the United Arab Emirates was involved in illegal gold trade extended to various conflict zones in the Middle East, despite international rules prohibiting the entry of gold from regions.
In Libya, according to statistics from the Foreign Trade Department of the Census and Statistics Department of the Ministry of Planning of the Government of National Accord, tons of gold were smuggled into the United Arab Emirates worth $3 billion and in contraband quantities ranging from 50 to 55 tons of gold. Mining companies in Africa said they did not export their gold production to the Emirates, suggesting that gold imports from Africa might come from other informal sources.
The Guardian newspaper revealed that rapid support forces led by one of Sudan’s wealthiest rulers, Mohamed Hamdan Dkulu, known as Hamito, control Sudan’s richest gold mines, making them players in the country’s most lucrative industry for smuggling into the Emirates at a time when more than 15 million people are below the poverty line.
The European microscope as well was briefed on the results of an investigation by two NGOs in Switzerland confirming that Dubai was a gateway for the transport of gold from conflict areas in Africa to Swiss refineries. However, METALOR, one of the four major Swiss refineries specialising in gold refining, said it was committed not to import the mineral from Dubai because it could not be traced.