A new report by Global Witness in the DR Congo says a Chinese company is funding armed men to get access to gold, which it exports to Dubai causing losses in tax revenues to the state.
According to the report titled ‘River of Gold’ released Tuesday July 5, 2016, the company, Kun Hou Mining, paid Raia Mutumboki armed groups operating along the banks of the Ulindi river $4,000 and gave them two AK-47 assault rifles in order to secure access to rich gold deposits on the river bed.
“Kun Hou Mining ran four semi-industrial river dredging machines along the Ulindi in the boom.
Members of the same armed groups also earned up to $25,000 per month by regularly taxing the workers on locally-made dredgers who were doing the dangerous job of manually sucking up gold from the river bed,” the report said.
The report also says South Kivu officials charged with oversight of the province’s artisanal gold sector appeared to defend Kun Hou Mining rather than enforce Congolese law and hold the company accountable for its illegal activity.
According to Global Witness, the Congolese state lost out on tax revenues on up to $38 million of artisanal gold produced per year, due to smuggling and misconduct by provincial authorities.
“In just one year, up to $17 million of gold produced by Kun Hou Mining, went missing and was likely smuggled out of Congo into international supply chains,” the group said.
Global Witness claims among others that almost half a million dollars’ worth of Kun Hou’s gold was exported to a Dubai company through official channels.
“The rest of the company’s estimated $17 million of gold production is likely to have been smuggled out of the country,” it added.
By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi