Gold Worth More Than $11.3B Smuggled Out Of Africa Through The UAE

Written by Peter Pedroncelli

Informal gold trading and smuggling through the United Arab Emirates has resulted in in billions worth of the precious metal disappearing from Africa, but none of the large industrial mining firms in Africa claim to have sent their gold to the U.A.E.

Gold export declarations from African countries do not match the disclosed imports from the U.A.E. A $11.3 billion shortfall reveals that illicit gold trade through the Middle East is costing African governments massive amounts of potential revenue, according to Comtrade, a United Nations customs database.

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U.N. records show that the Middle East country imported $15.1 billion worth of gold from Africa in 2016 — more than any other country. This is a significant increase from the $1.3 billion declared in 2006.

The issue is two-fold. African countries reported that far less than that was exported to the U.A.E, while gold-producing companies in Africa say that they do not export to U.A.E., according to an investigation by Reuters.

U.A.E.y reported gold imports from 46 African countries during 2016.

Comtrade data shows a discrepancy of $11.3 billion between what African governments reported and what the U.A.E reported, pointing to billions in smuggling.

Large quantities are being smuggled out of Africa through the United Arab Emirates. (AP Photo/Mike Groll, File)

Gold producers not involved in U.A.E. exports

During its investigation, Reuters contacted 23 mining companies with African operations, including AngloGold Ashanti, Sibanye-Stillwater and GoldFields in South Africa.

South African firms have local refining capacity. All of two companies responded, saying that they did not send the metal to Dubai for refining, Reuters reported.

The black-market trade in gold appears to be on the rise, with no taxes being paid to the countries that produce it.

In addition, it is likely to continue as the gold price makes it an attractive pursuit. The rising price of gold since the 2008 financial crisis has encouraged informal mining, according to IOL.