Gold laundering routes from South Sudan to Dubai via Kenya and Uganda revealed

Gold laundering routes from South Sudan to Dubai via Kenya and Uganda revealed

The Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime (GI-TOC) has published a report that presents strong indications that millions of US dollars’ worth of gold is being produced and smuggled out of South Sudan.

Tarnished hope; Crime and corruption in South Sudan’s gold sector also outlines how gold is smuggled out of the country, often with the connivance of officials and influential actors, into neighbouring Kenya and Uganda from where substantial quantities of the precious metal are destined for legitimate markets in Dubai.

Major destinations for South Sudanese gold are the Kenyan capital Nairobi, the Ugandan cities of Kampala and Entebbe, and Dubai according to the report. It says gold from parts of the South Sudan is primarily smuggled to Uganda while gold from Eastern Equatoria, especially Kapoeta, goes to Turkana County in Kenya.

Disguised origins

Because there is also gold mining in Turkana County in northern Kenya, once gold from Kapoeta crosses the border it is easily laundered into gold markets as gold produced in Kenya, hiding its South Sudanese origins according to the authors, Marcena Hunter and Ken Opala.

They say the black market for gold is thriving in the town, with little other notable economic activity in the area. Many shops operate as fronts for the gold business. For example, there are several hardware shops in Kapoeta, despite there being little construction activity in the town. The ramshackle nature of the town does not reflect the enormous amount of gold traded there.

Dubai connections

The report points to strong connections between traders in Dubai and those in both Uganda and Kenya. It says most buyers in Kampala have connections of one kind or another to Dubai, regardless of their nationality or heritage. Some dealers have also established fraudulent companies that engage in illicit gold trade.

Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport meanwhile is the busiest airport in East and central Africa, with connections to almost every part of the world, including international gold hubs such as Dubai and Istanbul. Various commodities have been trafficked through the airport, including gold the report concludes.



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