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The Golden Laundromat: The conflict gold trade from eastern Congo to the United States and Europe (The Sentry)

MagkaSama Team - October 22, 2018
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We regularly mention The Sentry on the MagkaSama Project, an initiative of the Enough Project and Not On Our Watch. As you know, we supported several of the Enough Project campaigns over the years on topics we focus on such as conflict minerals and human rights. The Sentry publishes news and reports on Sudan and South Sudan (we live-tweeted the press conference and we organized a group discussion following the livestream: In South Sudan, war crimes shouldn’t pay). But they also focus on Congo, you can read our news about their previous reports on this page.

The Sentry is now launching a new investigative report, ‘The Golden Laundromat: The conflict gold trade from eastern Congo to the United States and Europe‘ and according to their new investigation, conflict minerals from the Democratic Republic of Congo may be entering the supply chains of Amazon, General Electric (GE), Sony, and other companies that sell products to consumers. From the Key Findings:

An investigation by The Sentry raises significant concerns that gold mined from conflict areas in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (“Congo”) is reaching international markets, including the supply chains of major U.S. companies and in products that consumers use every day.

Documents reviewed and interviews conducted by The Sentry raise serious concern that the corporate network controlled by Belgian tycoon Alain Goetz has refined illegally-smuggled conflict gold from eastern Congo at the African Gold Refinery (AGR) in Uganda and then exported it through a series of companies to the United States and Europe, potentially including Amazon, General Electric (GE), and Sony.

We read in the full report:

The activities of the network appear to be noncompliant with both international supply chain due diligence guidance and international anti-money laundering safeguards as the network’s companies buy, refine, and then sell the gold. As a result, the hundreds of publicly listed U.S. companies that may source gold from the refineries in this network are at risk of purchasing conflict gold. Goetz is a director or owner of 14 different companies, from Uganda, Dubai, Belgium, and Luxembourg, and 6 of these companies have the same address in Belgium. For its part, AGR steadfastly maintains that it is committed to refraining from any action that contributes to the financing of conflict and that its due diligence systems are based on international guidance. Further, Tony Goetz NV asserts that it follows strict procedures to avoid sourcing conflict minerals and that it follows all laws and international guidelines. Nevertheless, according to documents reviewed and sources interviewed by The Sentry, there is a significant risk that AGR has sourced large volumes of gold from eastern Congo with undocumented origins and lacking conflict-free certification.

Once again, The Sentry provides a very well-documented report, pointing out a corporate network, supply chains, gold smugglers and how money laundering is organized internationally. In this article the Enough Project is demanding the United States, European Union, and United Nations to face up to their responsibilities and to take action:

The United States, European Union, and United Nations Security Council should take action to sanction gold smuggling companies and networks. Anti-money laundering measures should also be implemented to alert financial institutions on conflict and high-risk gold from East and Central Africa, highlighting in particular the significant risks presented by the trade in conflict gold from Congo.


The United States, European Union, and United Nations Security Council should investigate and, if appropriate, sanction gold refining and trading companies and their owners that are found to be involved in activities that threaten Congo’s peace, security, or stability through the illicit trade in natural resources. The US and Europe and East African countries should also combat money laundering associated with conflict gold through anti-money laundering measures.

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