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Southern and East Africa Organised Crime Risk Bulletin

by Julian Rademeyer -

A success in Malawi’s  struggle against ivory trafficking, counterfeit pharmaceutical syndicates making headway in Uganda, South Africans locked up abroad and 'machete gangs’ and illegal gold mining in Zimbabwe. These are some of the stories in the latest edition of the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime's East and Southern Africa Risk Bulletin:

Published monthly, the Bulletin aims to provide cutting-edge analysis, insights, data and news about organised crime patterns, emerging threats and significant law enforcement successes. 

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The Organised Crime Index - Africa 2019

by Kudzai Chinoda -

Lives are lost, forests and oceans are pillaged beyond the point of replenishment, animals are slaughtered, women, men, girls and boys are held in situations of violent abuse and exploitation. Customs officials receive bribes to turn their backs to a shipment of drugs. Police officers and soldiers sell their weapons on to street gangs. Politicians accept kickbacks, fix contracts and sell concessions to criminal groups and unethical corporations, so that they can profit from resources that were intended to improve the development opportunities of citizensThe harms caused by organised crime are widespread and profound Yet because it is almost always obscured in the 'underworld', hidden in the shadows of remote borderlands, concealed in secrecy jurisdictions or felt most keenly by underserved communities, organised crime is a threat too easily overlooked'Organised crime' is not a term that has tended to be used in the African contextHowever, as the political economy of the continent is evolving and intertwining with other geopolitical and globalisation dynamics, the term is currently being applied to the continent with increasing frequency – and urgency It describes everything from a range of illicit activities and actors, from human smuggling by militia groups along the North African coast, to the consorts and cronies aligned with heads of stateThis Organised Crime Index is published as an integral part of the EU-funded ENACT programme –Enhancing Africa’s Response to Transnational Organised Crime, which is implemented by a consortium comprising the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), INTERPOL and the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime (GI-TOC) ENACT undertakes in-depth research at continental, regional and national levels, publishes studies, policy briefs and short observers to monitor organised-crime trends, and works to engage policymakers, and build the capacity of practitioners and enforcement officials. The ENACT programme aims to encourage international and regional communities to move away from a solely criminal-justice-led response to organised crime, and towards a more comprehensive package of policies that can help mitigate the impact of organised crime, build local resilience and limit incentives for market participants The Organised Crime Index is a critical part of this endeavour Its objective is to catalyse a dialogue, offer a common nomenclature and framework for understanding the challenge, help focus the agenda on urgent priorities and provide guidance on how to respond8ORGANISED CRIME INDEX-AFRICA 2019No index could do justice to a topic as complex and multifaceted as organised crime, which encompasses so many forms of illegal and illicit behaviour, with such profound implications Neither would it be constructive or meaningful as a tool for policymakers and practitioners to present organised crime redacted down to a single numberFor that reason, the model we have created is complex, and is based on two leading components: criminality and resilienceNo state or community experiences organised crime in the same way They have different vulnerabilities, and different sources of institutional strengthA primary innovation of the ENACT Organised Crime Index, therefore, is to bring the concepts of criminality and resilience together, to offer a model that provides a nuanced picture of criminality, describing ten criminal markets and four criminal actor types, and to parallel that with an assessment of 12 indicators of resilience, forming the pillars of a holistic resilience approach that countries need to respond to organised crime effective.

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A Lambo, and other luxury cars seized during former eTekwini mayor - Zandile Gumede and Co raid

by Kudzai Chinoda -

A Lambo, and other luxury cars seized during former eTekwini mayor - Zandile Gumede and Co raid

News24 Wire and Citizen reporter

Numerous luxury cars have been seized, with their value adding up to several million rand.

The Amaoti home of former eThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede and luxury cars from her co-accused in the Durban Solid Waste tender scandal were among the assets seized by authorities on Thursday.

The Hawks together with the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) swooped in on the fraud, corruption and money laundering accused in the matter.

While authorities managed to seize Gumede’s Amaoti luxury home, they were given an early morning surprise when she was not at her palatial Umhlanga home – the address she provided to police as part of her bail conditions.

“It only transpired today that she was renting that house,” Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said.

He said the address matter would be investigated by the NPA.

“It is a matter now dealt with the NPA in terms of bail conditions and if she violated them or not. Let’s give them space so they can come to a determination on that.”

Among the 10 homes the AFU and Hawks also swooped in on was the plush Prestondale residence of Gumede co-accused Hlenga Sibisi.

From his home, a luxury Mercedes-Benz AMG was taken.

Other vehicles seized from Gumede’s co-accused were all high-end sports cars, off-road vehicles and sedans including a Porsche, Lamborghini, Audi, Land Rover and Jaguars.

They were taken from homes all located in upmarket parts of Durban and the North Coast including Zimbali Estate in Ballito, homes in Umhlanga as well as Amanzimtoti.

Gumede home seized

Speaking outside Gumede’s home, spokesperson for her supporters and close ally Mzomuhle Dube claimed none of her assets were seized.

“There are no assets that have been seized, contrary to what is being put out there. She has not lost luxury vehicles. She does not own those. She doesn’t live in opulence.”

However, Mulaudzi was quick to rebut Dube’s assertion.

“I can confirm we have seized the home,” he told a throng of journalists.

Gumede’s descent from power began shortly after she, together with councillor Mondli Mthembu, Sandile Ngcobo and Robert Abbu were arrested.

They allegedly colluded with corporate entities and others to circumvent the outcome of the supply chain management protocols of the municipality, in favour of the award of new Durban Solid Waster (DSW) contracts.

As a result of being awarded the unlawful contracts, four corporate entities were paid over R230m by February 2019.

Last week, the KZN Asset Forfeiture Unit obtained a restraint order to retain assets from the accused to the value of approximately R51m.

The ANC in the province, however, said Gumede’s recall as mayor was not linked to her corruption case, but to poor performance in the metro.

Earlier, by Citizen reporter:

East Coast Radio reporter Nushera Soodyal took to Twitter on Thursday to post pictures and videos of the several luxury cars seized during this morning’s raid.

The cars are worth several million rand in total.

The four cars featured in one of Soodyal’s tweets were a Lamborghini Huracan Spyder, one older and one newer model Porsche Cayman, and an Audi RS3 Sportback.

Soodyal also posted a video in which Hawks officer Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi updated the media on the search and seizures operation, saying they still need to “asses what transpired in terms of the quantities and monies involved in terms of all the assets that we have now”. 

Mulaudzi  said there were 10 houses the Hawks and the AFU visited today for the joint operation, and that immovable properties as well as luxury vehicles were seized. 

According to the officer the “operation went well” and those involved “managed to achieve our objective”, while adding there were some challenges encountered that would be dealt with by the NPA at a later stage.

Gumede’s legal team reportedly made contact with investigators, reports eNCA, and volunteered to come to the property to receive the notice, but the Hawks and the AFU said Gumede must receive the notice in person. If she was not available, they said they would go to her.

It subsequently emerged that the owner of the house arrived at the scene to allow investigators access, adding that Gumede has not been residing at the property since July.

The DA welcomed the raid “as a positive step in the development of the corruption, fraud and racketeering case against Gumede and several others, and urge the Hawks to continue with their good work”.

They said Gumede violating her bail conditions without informing the authorities was “surely grounds for arrest, which we trust will be imminent, as no one is above the law”.

“Whilst we are pleased that there is progress in this matter and that Gumede is no longer Mayor of the eThekwini Municipality, she remains a councillor in the municipality, along with her co-accused Mondli Mthembu and 62 other Councillors mentioned in the initial court proceedings.

“The eThekwini Municipality Speaker’s Office, which is tasked with upholding the Code of Conduct for Councillors as enshrined in the law, have not initiated investigation, suspension or action against these Councillors.

“Gumede, Mthembu and their unnamed 62 cohorts continue to earn R2.5 million rand a month of public money whilst eThekwini has done nothing itself to hold them accountable.”

(Compiled by Daniel Friedman. Background reporting, Nica Schreuder.) 

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Proceeds of any criminal activity will be forfeited to the State, says Eswatini Prime Minister

by Kudzai Chinoda -

Proceeds of any criminal activity will be forfeited to the State, says Eswatini Prime Minister

By Sibusiso Mngadi - Coordination Officer - Programme Communications and Advocacy

19 September 2019

Eswatini Prime Minister, H.E. Mr. Ambrose Mandvulo Dlamini says proceeds of criminal activity will be traced and forfeited to the state.

He was speaking at the first meeting of the Asset Recovery Committee which has been established following the passing of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act (POCA) of 2018. The meeting also witnessed the signing of the Dar es Salaam Declaration on Strengthening Asset Forfeiture for Development, which was approved at the Annual General Meeting of the assets Recovery Inter-agency Network (ARINSA) in June 2019 in Tanzania.

“As a country we cannot afford to lose any cent through crime and corruption if we are to fulfill our goal of economic transformation and development,” said Prime Minister. He added that the passing of POCA marked a new era in the fight against corruption and organized crime in Eswatini 

POCA cuts across the spectrum on asset forfeiture and enables the country to comply with international instruments such as(the United Nations Drug Control Conventions, the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (the TOC Convention) and UN United Nations Convention against Corruption.

The Prime Minister expressed his appreciation to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Assets Recovery Network of Southern Africa (ARINSA) and other partners for their assistance in ensuring that “this mandate of fighting organized crime and corruption is fulfilled.”

MS Zhuldyz Akisheva, UNODC Regional Representative in Southern Africa, recalled a report by the former president of the Republic of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki where it was estimated that USD 50 Billion a year is lost by the continent in illicit financial flows, 40% of which is estimated to be the proceeds of crime. “One can immediately see the devastating effect of illicit financial flows and money laundering on the continent,” she said, adding that it is for these reasons that the discussion on the problem of illicit financial flows is being brought up to the UN General Assembly. She also referred to the recent Communique approved by SADC member states, which highlighted the need to address transnational organised crime as impediment to economic development in the Region. 

She thanked Eswatini’s contribution towards the development of ARINSA. Eswatini has been a member of ARINSA since 2009. “I want to thank the Eswatini for the support which it has applied to the development of ARINSA as an original member of the network. The sixteen member countries of ARINSA cover a very significant part of Africa,” she observed.

United Nations Resident Coordinator, Ms. Nathalie Ndongo-Seh noted that the work of the Asset Recovery Committee would increase the combined efforts to accelerate the achievement of the SDGs. She stated that Goal 16, which is about promoting just, peaceful and inclusive societies, countries have committed to “significantly reduce illicit financial and arms flows, strengthen the recovery and return of stolen assets and combat all forms of organized crime by 2030.” 

For More:

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Eswatini Signs the Dar es Salaam on strengthening asset forfeiture for development

by Kudzai Chinoda -

Also present at the signing ceremony was UN Resident Coordinator, Nathalie Ndongo-Seh at a previous meeting with government one of the discussed issues

Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs

Ministry of Finance

Eswatini Royal Police Service

Eswatini Revenue Authority

Director of Public Prosecutions

Anti Corruption Commission 

Financial Intelligence Unit

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UNODC continues to strengthen cooperation in countering the illicit financial flows in Southern Africa

by Kudzai Chinoda -

UNODC continues to strengthen cooperation in countering  illicit financial flows in Southern Africa

 Delegates at a Regional Workshop held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

UNODC has launched a series of capacity building workshops through its project " Countering Illicit Financial Flows by Strengthening Law Enforcement for Asset Recovery Inter-Agency Network for Southern Africa (ARINSA)". A regional approach has been taken with various workshops being held in the region.  The first workshop was held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania from 12 to 15 August 2019.

The workshop was facilitated by Mrs. Connie Williams Regional Law Enforcement Adviser for Southern Africa and was the first in a series of workshops and instances of technical assistance aimed at increasing the operational capacity of target countries to identify, seize and confiscate currency and bearer negotiable instruments being smuggled into and through their jurisdictions.

In his opening remarks at the 4-day event the UK Deputy High Commissioner Mr. Rick Shearn, highlighted that illicit cross-border movement of cash and other valuable commodities, such as gold and diamonds, allows criminals and drug dealers to transport and conceal the proceeds of crime facilitating the financing of transnational criminal organizations.

Southern Africa has not escaped the negative effects of this global problem, as cash is often smuggled through its borders to finance organised criminal activities including narcotics, human trafficking, and terrorism. This initiative is aimed at limiting the movement of illicit funds and removing the proceeds of crime to effectively reduce the incidences of transnational organized crime and increase cooperation and knowledge and intelligence sharing amongst institutions within the region.

The sessions introduced various subject matter including, cash smuggling modalities, mechanisms of border security, money laundering schemes, profiling, investigative interviewing techniques as well as gap analysis on the implementation of best practices on operational capacity. The sessions emphasised the importance of inter-agency cooperation and collaboration of national authorities mandated to prevent, investigate and prosecute money-laundering and related offenses, as well how to locate, seize and confiscate the proceeds from crime.

This all-inclusive initiative draws participants from various stakeholders such as border management, the police, Financial Intelligence Units, customs and public prosecutor’s office. Participants are exposed to networking opportunities as they interact with their counterparts from other ARINSA member states. These regional forums enable them to draw on their experiences and contribute to interesting discussions and the identification of common challenges and solutions


The national workshop in Eswatini brought together 18 practitioners from financial intelligence and investigations, customs, DPP and law enforcement. 

The discussions and interactive exchange of views allowed the participants to identify both the best practices and the challenges faced by the judiciary and law enforcement agencies in investigating, prosecuting and adjudicating cash smuggling and money-laundering, and to assess the adequacy of law enforcement capacity in Eswatini, which are applied for depriving criminals of proceeds of crime.

This project is funded by the United Kingdom Department of International Development and aims to assist target counties to strengthen their operational capacity to seize, confiscate currency and bearer negotiable instruments being smuggled and to foster cooperation at the regional level for effective action to tackle organised crime, money laundering and the financing of terrorism  

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High prices are luring Africans into prospecting for gold. But huge volumes are smuggled out through the Middle East.

by Kudzai Chinoda -

High prices are luring Africans into prospecting for gold. But huge volumes are smuggled out through the Middle East.


Billions of dollars’ worth of gold is being smuggled out of Africa every year through the United Arab Emirates in the Middle East – a gateway to markets in Europe, the United States and beyond – a Reuters analysis has found.

Customs data shows that the UAE imported $15.1 billion worth of gold from Africa in 2016, more than any other country and up from $1.3 billion in 2006. The total weight was 446 tonnes, in varying degrees of purity – up from 67 tonnes in 2006.

Much of the gold was not recorded in the exports of African states. Five trade economists interviewed by Reuters said this indicates large amounts of gold are leaving Africa with no taxes being paid to the states that produce them.

Previous reports and studies have highlighted the black-market trade in gold mined by people, including children, who have no ties to big business, and dig or pan for it with little official oversight. No-one can put an exact figure on the total value that is leaving Africa. But the Reuters analysis gives an estimate of the scale.

Reuters assessed the volume of the illicit trade by comparing total imports into the UAE with the exports declared by African states. Industrial mining firms in Africa told Reuters they did not send their gold to the UAE – indicating that its gold imports from Africa come from other, informal sources.

Informal methods of gold production, known in the industry as “artisanal” or small-scale mining, are growing globally. They have provided a livelihood to millions of Africans and help some make more money than they could dream of from traditional trades. But the methods leak chemicals into rocks, soil and rivers. And African governments such as Ghana, Tanzania and Zambia complain that gold is now being illegally produced and smuggled out of their countries on a vast scale, sometimes by criminal operations, and often at a high human and environmental cost.

Artisanal mining began as small-time ventures. But the “romantic” era of individual mining has given way to “large-scale and dangerous” operations run by foreign-controlled criminal syndicates, Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo told a mining conference in February. Ghana is Africa’s second-largest gold producer.

Not everyone in the chain is breaking the law. Miners, some of them working legally, typically sell the gold to middlemen. The middlemen either fly the gold out directly or trade it across Africa’s porous borders, obscuring its origins before couriers carry it out of the continent, often in hand luggage. For example, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is a major gold producer but one whose official exports amount to a fraction of its estimated production: Most is smuggled into neighbouring Uganda and Rwanda. “It is of course worrisome for us but we have very little leverage to stop it,” said Thierry Boliki, director of the CEEC, the Congolese government body that is meant to register, value and tax high-value minerals like gold.  

The customs data provided by governments to Comtrade, a United Nations database, shows the UAE has been a prime destination for gold from many African states for some years. In 2015, China – the world’s biggest gold consumer – imported more gold from Africa than the UAE. But during 2016, the latest year for which data is available, the UAE imported almost double the value taken by China. With African gold imports worth $8.5 billion that year, China came a distant second. Switzerland, the world’s gold refining hub, came third with $7.5 billion worth.

Most of the gold is traded in Dubai, home to the UAE's gold industry.

The UAE reported gold imports from 46 African countries for 2016. Of those countries, 25 did not provide Comtrade with data on their gold exports to the UAE. But the UAE said it had imported a total of $7.4 billion worth of gold from them.

In addition, the UAE imported much more gold from most of the other 21 countries than those countries said they had exported. In all, it said it imported gold worth $3.9 billion – about 67 tonnes – more than those countries said they sent out. 

“There is a lot of gold leaving Africa without being captured in our records,” said Frank Mugyenyi, a senior adviser on industrial development at the African Union who set up the organisation’s minerals unit. “UAE is cashing in on the unregulated environment in Africa.”

The Dubai Customs Authority referred Reuters’ queries to the UAE foreign ministry, which did not respond. The UAE government media office referred Reuters to the UAE federal customs authority, which also did not respond.

Not all the discrepancies in the data analysed by Reuters necessarily point to African-mined gold being smuggled out through the UAE. Small differences could result from shipping costs and taxes being declared differently, a time-lag between a cargo leaving and arriving, or simply mistakes. And gold analysts say some of the trade, especially from Egypt and Libya, could include gold that has been recycled.

But in 11 cases, the per-kilo value that the UAE declared importing is significantly higher than that recorded by the exporting country. This, said Leonce Ndikumana, an economist who has studied capital flows in Africa, is a “classic case of export under-invoicing” to reduce taxes.

Matthew Salomon, an American economist who has researched the use of trade statistics to identify illicit financial flows, said the issue deserves scrutiny. “Persistent discrepancies in the trade of particular goods and between particular countries … can identify significant risks of illicit activity,” he said.

Pollution, conflict and bandits

Over the past decade, high demand for gold has made it attractive for informal miners to use digging equipment and toxic chemicals to boost the yield. Contaminated water is returned to rivers, slowly poisoning the people who need the water to live.

Small-scale miners have long used mercury – easy to buy at around $10 for a thumb-sized vial – to extract flecks of gold from ore, before sluicing it away. Mercury’s toxic effects include damage to kidneys, heart, liver, spleen and lungs, and neurological disorders, such as tremors and muscle weakness. Cyanide and nitric acid are also being used in the process, according to researchers and miners in Ghana.

Industrial mining companies have also been responsible for pollution, ranging from cyanide spills to respiratory problems linked to dust produced by mining operations. But almost a dozen states including DRC, Uganda, Chad, Niger, Ghana, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Burkina Faso, Mali and Sudan have complained in the past year about the harms of unauthorised mining.

Burkina Faso has banned small-scale mining in some areas where al Qaeda-linked Islamists are active, and earlier this month Nigeria’s government suspended mining in the restive northwestern state of Zamfara, saying intelligence reports established what it called “a strong and glaring nexus” between the activities of armed bandits and illicit miners.

Strong prices have fuelled the boom. Today, gold trades at over $40,000 per kilo, which is below a peak from 2012 but still four times the level of two decades ago.

Western investors want gold so they can diversify their portfolios; India and China want it for jewellery. But most Western companies – and the banks that finance them – avoid handling non-industrial African gold directly. They are unwilling to risk using metal that may have been mined to fund conflict or that may have involved human rights abuses in, for instance, DRC or Sudan. Various Uganda-based traders have been sanctioned for handling gold smuggled out of DRC.

Destination Dubai

In other states, including the UAE, these concerns have been less of a problem. Over the last decade, gold from Africa has become increasingly important for Dubai. From 2006 to 2016, the share of African gold in UAE’s reported gold imports increased from 18 percent to nearly 50 percent, Comtrade data showed.

The UAE’s main commodity marketplace, the Dubai Multi-Commodities Centre (DMCC), calls itself on its website “your gateway to global trade.” Trading in gold accounts for nearly one-fifth of UAE’s GDP.

However, no big industrial companies reached by Reuters – including AngloGold Ashanti, Sibanye-Stillwater and Gold Fields – say they send gold there. Reuters contacted 23 mining companies with African operations, the smallest of which produced around 2.5 tonnes in 2018: 21 of them said they did not send metal to Dubai for refining, the other two did not respond.

While the big South African miners have local refining capacity, the main reason others gave is that no UAE refineries are accredited by the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA), the standard-setter for the industry in Western markets.

The LBMA is “not comfortable dealing with the region” because of concerns about weaknesses in customs, cash transactions and hand-carried gold, its chief technical officer Neil Harby told Reuters. Investigators and people in the gold industry say the ease with which smugglers can carry gold in their hand-luggage on planes leaving Africa helps gold flow out unrecorded. And limited regulation in UAE means informally mined gold can be legally imported, tax-free.

Gold can be imported to Dubai with little documentation, African traders told Reuters.

A DMCC spokesman said it has a robust regulatory framework that includes strict responsible sourcing rules. These are aligned with the international benchmark for responsible sourcing laid out by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Sanjeev Dutta, head of commodities at DMCC, said in January that the centre is building strategic relationships with most gold-producing countries on the African continent, “and we are very confident of how that production is done and how responsible” it is. Over the past 12 months, he said, DMCC has firmed up a standard for refineries, called Dubai Good Delivery, which he said is very strict on responsible sourcing and sustainability. “We track right from responsible sourcing to sustainable development, things like human rights etc.,” he said. “We demand export certificates.”

A “very limited” number of refineries accept gold that has been imported as hand luggage, Dutta said, but gave no figures.

Gold to go 

Some African miners are swapping their pickaxes and shovels for diggers and crushers – increasing production volumes exponentially. Regulation remains scant, and accidents are frequent. In one week this February, three accidents at illegal mining operations in Zimbabwe, Guinea and Liberia claimed the lives of more than 100 people.

Often, miners must surrender a cut of their output, as commission, to the people who control a pit, let out the equipment, or buy and sell the gold. NGOs such as Global Witness and Human Rights Watch have documented child labour, corruption and links to conflict at some of these mines. At one mine in Zimbabwe visited by Reuters, people said they had to hand over some of their find before they would even be allowed out of the pit.  

Reuters presented its analysis to 14 African governments. Of them, five said it reflected an existing concern about gold being smuggled out of their countries that they are trying to address. One said they did not think gold smuggling was a problem for them. The rest declined to comment or did not respond. 

Governments across Africa are trying to work out how to manage a sector that, whatever its risks, provides a livelihood for many of their citizens, and which could be harnessed as a source of revenues.

Some, including Ivory Coast, are taking gradual steps to regulate their informal mining operations. Ghana and Zambia have sent security forces into mining areas to halt operations so miners can be registered and regulations put in place. Ghana, concerned that a rush of mainly Chinese-led ventures is harming the environment, has arrested hundreds of Chinese miners and expelled thousands in the past six years.

At the end of last month, Ghana temporarily banned the import of excavator equipment to try to stem a surge in illegal mining using heavy machinery.

“I understand that Dubai is the destination for this gold. But since (the trade) is fraudulent, I have no details.”

Burkina Faso Mines Minister Idani Oumarou

In Sudan, one of the continent’s biggest producers, the government has unveiled a $3 billion plan for private banks to work with the central bank to buy gold from small-scale miners, offering prices that would make it less attractive to sell on the black market.

A Tanzanian parliamentary report estimated that 90 percent of annual production of informally mined gold is smuggled out of the country: The government wants the central bank to buy this up. In March, President John Magufuli launched a plan to establish hubs where the trade would be formalised by offering access to financing and regulated markets.

In Burkina Faso, Oumarou Idani, minister of mines, believes his country is leaking gold to UAE on a massive scale. Of the 9.5 tonnes of gold the government estimates informal miners dig up each year, just 200 to 400 kg are declared to the authorities, he said.

Much of the gold is smuggled from landlocked Burkina Faso to its Atlantic coast neighbour Togo, according to the minister. In Togo, virtually no taxes are imposed on gold.

Togo’s director of mining development and controls, Nestor Kossi Adjehoun, said informal mining is “an area that we have not properly figured out.” For now, he said, Togo saw no reason to suspect gold was being smuggled through the country.

“I understand that Dubai is the destination for this gold,” his Burkina Faso neighbour, Minister Idani, told Reuters in an interview last year. “But since (the trade) is fraudulent, I have no details.”  

Additional reporting by John Ndiso in Nairobi, Tim **s in Ouagadougou, Ed McAllister in Dakar, Chris Mfula in Lusaka, Giulia Paravicini in Kinshasa, MacDonald Dzirutwe in Battlefields, Zimbabwe, John Zodzi in Lome, Fumbuka Ng’wanakilala in Dodoma, Maha El Dahan in Dubai, and Peter Hobson in London

New Gold Rush

By David Lewis, Ryan McNeill and Zandi Shabalaba

Data: Ryan McNeill

Graphics: Samuel Granados and Michael Ovaska

Photo editing: Simon Newman

Video: Tim **s and Matt Larotonda

Design: Pete Hausler

Edited by Sara Ledwith, Alexandra Zavis and Richard Woods

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Suspicious transactions increase by 97% in 2019

by Kudzai Chinoda -

Suspicious transactions increase by 97% in 2019

Aug 02, 2019 Lawson Chad

According to Bank of Namibia “Money Laundering is the process whereby criminals convert the proceeds of crime (such as money, property, shares, etc.) into assets that appear to have a legitimate origin.”
Believed to be more prolific in Namibia than reported, methods used to launder money are various and include small to medium sized cash business and even large parastatals which operate using cash on a fairly regular basis, it is alleged.
The primary objective for all the Anti-Money Laundering (AML) requirements imposed on the banks as per the Financial Intelligence Act, 13 of 2012 (FIA) is to report Suspicious Transactions and /or Activities Reports (STR/SAR’s) so as to enable law enforcement to prevent criminals from completing or benefiting from the proceeds of their illegal activities. These requirements also protect Namibian banks from being used as an institution to launder illicit funds.
According to the 2019 Annual Report by the FIC, “the number of SARs reported in 2019 amounted to 279, a 97% increase, compared to 139 SARs recorded in 2018. Attributing factors to the increase in SARs reporting is due to FIC’s consistent AML/CTF trainings, supervision and monitoring into the quality of reporting.”
“The latest statistical report from the Bank of Namibia’s Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) indicates that Tax Evasion remains the leading potential offence in all the suspicious reports finalised. This feedback is demonstrative of how STR/SAR’s not only assist law enforcement but also protect the Namibian economy from losing funds through illicit activities, says Bank Windhoek André le Roux, Manager: PR & Reputation Risk.
For banks, suspicions are raised when it is clear that there exists no match between a client’s profile and the transaction that the said client might be in the process of performing.
An example of such a scenario may be when a client’s source of funds are not aligned to the transaction in question or when there is no identification documentation availed. Such an instance would be reported to the FIC.
A monthly statistical report, published by the FIC in June 2019 states that “during the period under review STR’s received slightly decreased to 78 STRs from 95, and 82 recorded during the previous month and the same month in the previous year respectively. The chart further shows that currently, out of all the STRs received during the month under review, only 3 reports were escalated for further analysis whereas 17 were classified as ‘low priority’.
In addition, a total of 58 STRs or 74.4% of these reports were still under cleansing at the time of reporting.
The Banks continue to file the most reports. During the month of June 2019, May 2019 and June 2018, they filed 80.8%, 89.5% and 57.3% of all STRs respectively,” reveals the report.
“The fight against financial crime is a responsibility for not only banks but for every citizen and resident of Namibia.
With this core understanding, if you have knowledge of any suspicious activity/ transaction concluded in any business, or suspect that a business received or is about to receive the proceeds of unlawful activities, you must without delay, after the suspicion or belief concerning the transaction/activity that gave rise to the requirement, report the same to the FIC,” urges Le Roux.
Financial crime is a national and global challenge. Often times the Banks receive queries on why Anti-Money Laundering, Combatting Terrorist and Proliferation Financing requirements such as Know Your Customer and Enhanced Due Diligence requirements are necessary.
“Whilst these obligations may seem cumbersome in the normal course of day to day activities, we must remember that criminals rely on funding to conduct their operations,” Le Roux continued.
In the latest statistical report from the Financial Intelligence Centre,

Tax Evasion biggest offence
Tax Evasion remains the leading potential offence in all the suspicious reports finalised.
This feedback is demonstrative of how STR/SAR’s not only assist law enforcement but also protect the Namibian economy from losing funds through illicit activities.
“It is therefore incumbent on the general public, especially businesses to appreciate that requirements such as KYC are the foundation which assist banks to combat financial crime, decrease the risk of proceeds of crime being cleaned through Namibia’s financial system,” Le Roux concluded.

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Dark web dealer laundered millions by buying 100 quadrillion old Zimbabwe bank notes

by Kudzai Chinoda -

Dark web dealer laundered millions by buying 100 quadrillion old Zimbabwe bank notes

Internet Trade ...Decommissioned Zimbawe ban notes are sold over the internet
Internet trade .. Decommissioned bank notes are sold over the intenet

NEW YORK, United States – A drug dealer who used dark web marketplaces to ply his trade apparently used part of the proceeds to buy vast quantities of Zimbabwean cash.

The FBI said Richard Castro, of Florida, had bought the equivalent of “approximately 100 quadrillion [1,000 trillion] Zimbabwe bank notes” in June 2018.

Use of the currency had ended years earlier, following hyperinflation.

he purchase is thought to have been part of a wider money laundering scheme.

Castro also bought hundreds of thousands of US dollars worth of vehicles and “luxury automobile [wheel]rims”.

The accused initially made his fortune by illegally dealing opioids, including fentanyl and carfentanil – both of which are stronger than heroin.

These were initially sold via AlphaBay and Dream Market, markets on the Tor network accessed via a special web browser only.

However, after the authorities shut AlphaBay down and were rumoured to have compromised Dream Market’s platform, Castro told his clients he would accept purchases via encrypted email only and required them to pay the equivalent of a US$104 fee in Bitcoin to be told the address.

An undercover police officer paid the fee and used the address to order several deliveries, which first helped identify one of Castro’s associates and then the dealer himself, who had gone by the nickname Chems_usa.

Castro initially claimed to be not guilty before changing his plea last week.

He has since agreed to surrender a sum worth the equivalent of about US$4.16m, earned through the criminal venture.

He is due to be sentenced on October 25 and could face decades in jail. – BBC

Prolific Dark Web Dealer Of Carfentanil And Fentanyl Pleads Guilty

Defendant Richard Castro Led a Conspiracy that Sold Carfentanil and Fentanyl over the Dark Web to Customers across the United States for Several Years

Geoffrey S. Berman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that RICHARD CASTRO, a/k/a “Chemsusa,” a/k/a “Chems_usa,” a/k/a “Chemical_usa,” a/k/a “Jagger109,” pled guilty today to money laundering and to participating in a conspiracy to distribute carfentanil, fentanyl, and a fentanyl analogue over the “dark web,” including on AlphaBay and Dream Market.  CASTRO also agreed to forfeit more than $4 million in criminal proceeds.  CASTRO pled guilty before U.S. District Judge Denise L. Cote.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “As he admitted today, for years, Richard Castro used the dark web to distribute prolific quantities of powerful opioids, including fentanyl and carfentanil.  Castro thought he could hide behind the anonymity of the internet, and use online pseudonyms to deal drugs – like ‘Chems_usa’ and ‘Chemical_usa.’  Thanks to our law enforcement partners, ‘Chems_usa’ is now in U.S. prison.”

According to the allegations in the Indictment to which RICHARD CASTRO pled guilty, public court filings, and statements made in court:

From November 2015 through March 2019, CASTRO conspired to distribute carfentanil, fentanyl, and phenyl fentanyl (an analogue of fentanyl).  Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is significantly stronger than heroin, and carfentanil is a fentanyl analogue that is approximately 100 times stronger than fentanyl.  For most of the conspiracy, CASTRO and a co-conspirator dealt drugs over the dark web, using the monikers “Chemsusa,” “Chems_usa,” and “Chemical_usa.”  CASTRO was an operator of these online monikers and the leader of this conspiracy.  On one dark web marketplace, Dream Market, CASTRO boasted that he had completed more than 3,200 transactions on other dark web markets, including more than 1,800 on AlphaBay.  The customer feedback for “Chemsusa” included, “Extremely potent and definitely the real Carf,” as well as “The Carfent is unbelievably well synthesized, keep up the amazing work.” 

In June 2018, CASTRO, using the “Chemsusa” moniker, informed his customers that he was moving his business off dark web marketplaces and would accept purchase requests for narcotics only via encrypted email.  To learn the off-market email address, “Chems_usa” required willing customers to pay a fee.  An undercover law enforcement officer paid this fee, obtained the encrypted email address, and placed orders with CASTRO.  CASTRO’s co-defendant, Luis Fernandez, shipped narcotics on behalf of the conspiracy, including from New York City. 

CASTRO’s customers paid him in Bitcoin.  CASTRO laundered his narcotics proceeds in several ways, including by funneling millions of dollars through his Bitcoin wallets and by buying approximately 100 quadrillion Zimbabwe bank notes, among other valuables.

Under the terms of his plea agreement, CASTRO has agreed forfeit $4,156,198.18, including the funds or currency in seven different Bitcoin wallet addresses.

*                *                *

RICHARD CASTRO, 36, of Windermere, Florida, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute three controlled substances – carfentanil, phenyl fentanyl, and fentanyl, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life in prison; and one count of money laundering, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.  The statutory maximum sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.  Sentencing is scheduled for October 25, 2019, at 2:30 p.m. before Judge Cote.

Mr. Berman praised the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the New York City Police Department for their outstanding investigative work.  Mr. Berman also thanked the Internal Revenue Service and the Orange County, Florida, Sheriff’s Office for their assistance in this case.

This matter is being handled by the Office’s Narcotics Unit.  Assistant United States Attorneys Michael D. Neff, Aline R. Flodr, and Ryan B. Finkel are in charge of the prosecution.

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Zimbabwe Cracks Down on Corruption, Tourism Minister Arrested

by Kudzai Chinoda -

Zimbabwe Cracks Down on Corruption, Tourism Minister Arrested

News provided by

Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC)

Jul 26, 2019, 02:00 ET

HARARE, Zimbabwe, July 26, 2019 Zimbabwe's Minister of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality, Prisca Mupfumira, was arrested Thursday by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) on allegations of corruption. It is the first high-profile arrest following the appointment two weeks ago of ZACC chair Loice Matanda-Moyo, who has vowed zero tolerance for crimes and obstruction.

Matanda-Moyo, who was seconded for three years from her position as a High Court judge, recently acknowledged that "corruption is quite rampant in all sectors of our economy" and promised "to leave no stone unturned" to ensure that everybody who is engaging in corrupt activities – including high-profile personalities – is brought to justice in order to achieve a "corrupt-free Zimbabwe".

"Once we join hands in fighting corruption, we will win and our economic challenges will disappear," Matanda-Moyo said, adding "Zimbabwe prisons will be open for business."

President Emmerson Mnangagwa was elected a year ago on the promises of implementing wide-ranging reforms and fighting rampant corruption, following the 37-year tenure of Robert Mugabe. Mnangagwa reformed the ZACC in February, which he described as "rotten to the core" at the time, and set up the new anti-graft body with nine bipartisan commissioners from varied backgrounds, including auditors, accountants, lawyers and police officers.

Pledging political will and commitment to fight corruption, the government has recently given ZACC arresting powers and it is amending the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Act to include Unexplained Wealth orders, which will make recoveries of ill-gotten wealth much easier. The government is also in the process of crafting legislation that protects whistle-blowers and witnesses in corruption cases.  

While the detention of Mupfumira is the first high-profile arrest, ZACC is currently investigating over 200 cases of corruption. Meanwhile, the Judicial Services Commission is moving to open specialised Anti-Corruption Courts in all 10 provinces of the country, with courts having already been opened in the capital Harare, as well as Bulawayo, Mutare and Masvingo.

Source: Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC)   

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