Billions of dollars in gold smuggled from Africa via UAE – Reuters report

GOLD worth billions of dollars is smuggled out of Africa annually through the United Arab Emirates (UAE), according to a Reuters report which quoted five economists on the matter.

Citing customs data, Reuters said the UAE imported $15.1bn in gold from Africa in 2016, but a large portion of that gold supply was not recorded in the exports of African states. “There is a lot of gold leaving Africa without being captured in our records,” Frank Mugyenyi, a senior adviser on industrial development at the African Union told Reuters.

“UAE is cashing in on the unregulated environment in Africa,” he said.

The newswire said the gold may be coming from artisanal and small-scale mining activities as industrial-level gold miners did not send their gold to the UAE.

“While the big South African miners have local refining capacity, the main reason others gave is that no UAE refineries are accredited by the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA), the standard-setter for the industry in Western markets,” said Reuters.

“Persistent discrepancies in the trade of particular goods and between particular countries … can identify significant risks of illicit activity,” said Matthew Salomon, an American economist who has researched the use of trade statistics to identify illicit financial flows.