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One of Africa’s Biggest Gold Refiners Sanctioned

The US Treasury Department has sanctioned African Gold Refinery (AGR) along with Belgian gold businessman Alain Goetz–the company proprietor who claims to have sold it – and several other companies linked to him for involvement in illicit gold trade. Goetz and his network of companies, the US treasury department said, were involved in movement of gold valued at hundreds of millions of dollars per year from the Democratic Republic of Congo. “The illicit movement of gold provides revenue to armed groups that threaten the peace, security, and stability of the DRC,” the department said in a statement. “More than 90 percent of DRC gold is smuggled to regional states, including Uganda and Rwanda, where it is then often refined and exported to international markets, particularly the UAE,” the department further noted. Goetz called the sanctions a “mistake” that threaten improvements in transparency in the region’s gold trade. The listing by the Treasury “seems to indicate that their research is solely based on open-source reports by non-governmental organizations, which have previously been proven to be incorrect or biased in their reporting,” he said in a statement sent by text message. Goetz said he hasn’t been to Congo for more than 20 years and that he no longer runs AGR. Congolese government spokesman Patrick Muyaya declined to comment on the sanctions against Goetz himself but said that in general the sanctions were “positive because they’ll help us with our strategy fighting against armed groups and illicit mineral trafficking.”