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U.S. sanctions Belgian trader for illicit Congo gold exports

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The United States imposed sanctions on Belgian trader, Alain Goetz and several companies, for illegally exporting gold from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Goetz and his company African Gold Refinery (AGR), a major metals processor on the continent, illicitly exported gold worth hundreds of millions of dollars from Congo.

The U.S. Treasury Department said in a statement late on Thursday.

It said, the illicit gold trade financed numerous armed groups in the region and undermined Congo’s stability, noting that gold was the largest source of income for armed militias in eastern Congo.

More than 90 per cent of Congo’s gold was smuggled to neighbouring countries such as Uganda and Rwanda, where it was processed and exported, mainly to the United Arab Emirates, the statement said.

Goetz and his main Uganda-based company AGR, along with eight other business entities linked to him, were accused of contributing to the conflict in the region by not questioning the origin of the gold shipments.

The U.S. said about 130 different armed groups were active in eastern Congo, involved in the illegal gold trade through smuggling, exploitation of miners and extortion.

“Treasury has been very clear: global gold markets, at every step of the supply chain, must engage in responsible sourcing and conduct supply-chain due diligence,” said the statement.

This occurred under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Brian E Nelson said.

The sanctions block all property and interests in property in the United States.

U.S. individuals and entities were also prohibited from doing business with Goetz and the companies.

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