Police halt illicit gold mining operations in Uganda with suspected links to TBML

Police in northern Uganda have charged 31 Kenyan citizens for illegally mining gold in Uganda.

The police have now put a halt to their mining operations, which they suspect may be linked with trade-based money laundering (TBML) activities connected to criminal operations.

In Uganda, gold is vulnerable to TBML schemes because it is a cash-intensive industry with limited oversight and the origins of gold are hard to trace.

Police findings

According to police spokesperson, Fred Enanga, the allegedly illegal mining operations of the Kenyans were stopped because they would fuel criminal activity in the region and the country as a whole.

“Such illicit mining is connected to trade-based money laundering which allows criminal networks to fund a number of dangerous activities and that is why it is totally discouraged,” he said.

Easy to launder gold

Because Uganda’s gold industry is cash-intensive and far from transparent, it easy to, for example, co-mingle smuggled gold with legally mined gold according to a recent study co-authored by a group of experts entitled Trade-Based Money Laundering: A Global Challenge (Trade-based Financial Crime, 6 February 2023).

The study says that there is no clear data on the mines from which gold traded in Uganda is sourced within or outside the country, and Uganda’s central bank estimates that only about 10 per cent of gold exports are mined domestically.

It concludes however that inconsistencies in trade data raise the TBML risk profile of the Ugandan gold sector.

The paper, Trade-Based Money Laundering: A Global Challenge, was co-authored by Global Financial Integrity, Fedesarrollo, Transparency International Kenya and Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment can be found here.


Categories: Trade Based Financial crimes News

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