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BusinessBillions in smuggled African gold flowing into UAE annually - SwissAid report

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Billions in smuggled African gold flowing into UAE annually – SwissAid report

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321-474 tons of African gold extracted through artisanal and small-scale mining remains unreported annually, with an estimated value ranging from $24 to $35 billion.

SwissAid reports an alarming surge in the smuggling of African gold, which more than doubled between 2012 and 2022. In 2022 alone, over 435 tons of gold bullion were illicitly transported out of Africa.

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This illicit trade contributes to conflict, finances criminal and terrorist groups, undermines democratic institutions, and facilitates money laundering. Mali, Ghana, and Zimbabwe are among the top sources of smuggled gold, with Dubai identified as a crucial international hub for its distribution, often routed to Switzerland.

Approximately 66.5% (405 tons) of the gold imported into the UAE from Africa in 2022 was obtained through smuggling. The gold enters Dubai via various means, including hand luggage, cargo, scheduled flights, and private jets.

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Most of the illegally obtained African gold is then exported from the UAE to Switzerland, its second-largest importer, as well as to India. However, under Swiss law, gold processed in Switzerland is not traced back to its African origins.

While the UAE has taken steps to address concerns about gold smuggling, including increased inspections and imposing significant fines, it emphasizes that it cannot be held responsible for the export records of other countries. The UAE asserts that it has adopted measures to combat money laundering within the gold sector.

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