KIGALI - Dinesh Mahtani, the coordinator of the UN Eminent Group of Experts report on militia groups’ activities in DRC has told the BBC that almost 40 tonnes of gold is smuggled out of the country annually.
Mahtani said most of the gold was controlled by rebel groups, including the FDLR, who use the proceeds to buy arms for their activities.
“A lot of this gold is controlled by armed group networks, in particular the FDLR,” Mahtani is quoted by the BBC as having said.
The FDLR, some of whose political leaders were on Tuesday arrested in Germany, is made up of remnants Ex-FAR/ Interahamwe responsible for the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi and operate in eastern Congo
According to the BBC report, the UN official who is due to report to the UN Security Council this week, said most of the gold is shipped to Dubai.
“Recently there was a Congolese Senate report which talked of roughly $1.24bn worth of gold or 40 tonnes of material smuggled out on a yearly basis without any customs declaration,” Mahtani,, who co-ordinates UN arms embargo experts, told BBC .
He added that the gold trade is one of the most significant avenues of direct finance for the armed groups.
As revealed, Mahtani, is this week likely to present evidence gathered from travel documents, phone records and customs certificates to the Security Council, outlining how DRC’s gold is traded.
“When you place companies on a sanctions list and you don’t sanction directors of those companies, then it’s very easy for them to simply change behaviour, set up new front companies and carry on operating,” he said.
“So this year we’ve been looking at some of the directors of these companies and some of the other companies operating in this region and in this trade, and trying to focus on individuals rather than trying to nail companies against a wall,who could easily change names from one day to the next.”