INTERPOL agencies are investigating a case of gold theft and smuggling surrounding the disappearance of up to about 500 KGS of gold stolen in a privately-run warehouse in Goma suburbs in North Kivu Province of Congo to Uganda Kampala.
The case started back in January 2017 when Mr Mulume Mweze, a warehouse manager working for the Cooperative Miniere d’Ihusi in Goma – North Kivu was arrested and detained in Goma following the disappearance of an amount of gold valued around 300 KGS. Further investigations led the police investigators to the arrest of individuals behind a gold smuggling syndicate operation between D.R Congo, Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya. Semi refined gold is smuggled without paying any taxes or royalties to the Congolese Government. According to official reports from the Police Nationale Congolaise, the cartel members use diplomatic bags and chartered small planes operating from Goma and Kavumu Airports in North and South Kivu provinces, the gold is channeled through the East African Community countries before ending to the International market in Dubai, Hong Kong, London, and Istanbul markets.
According to the same sources, movements of the disappeared gold belonging to Cooperative Miniere d’Ihusi were noticed in Tanzania back in March 2017, where the smugglers tried to ship the gold in small quantities. The gold was later impounded in Nairobi Kenya in September 2017, but this time the quantity was 346 KGS that had previously been shipped in as 150, 150, and 46 KGS and it was in transit about to be shipped out with new certificate of Origin from Tanzania.
The gold later disappeared from the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, in Customs warehouse, where investigators found only empty boxes. Investigations are still being conducted in the region around the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and the Wilson Airport, the busiest airport in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya. By extension the gold search quest includes Entebbe International Airport in Uganda and Julius Nyerere International Airport in Tanzania. Several traces of fake documentation have been recovered in customs registry related to the disappeared gold.
This reminds us of another case when DRC President Joseph Kabila flew over for emergency talks with President Kibaki of Kenya over huge consignments of gold stolen and smuggled into Kenya from his country by a cartel. The seriousness the two leaders attached to the problem was discernible from the fact the presidents immediately set up a joint investigative team to probe the gold smuggling syndicate between the two countries. Sources in security circles revealed at the centre of discussions was loss of gold weighing 2.5 tons, whose entry into Kenya was linked to execution of a Kenya Revenue Authority official assigned investigations into the smuggling activities on February 26.
“Kabila banned mining in North and South Kivu in September 2011 because the precious stones are the lifeline of guerrilla activities in DRC.” Source from Interpol says.
“This could be one of the networks which fueled the war in the east,” Mr Paluku Said
“If a rebel leader is given money in exchange for gold, he will never leave the bush,” he said.
It is, however, not clear where the consignment of gold is at the moment, nor the exact list of the members of the cartel arrested up to now related to this case. All police agencies in the region are in alert mode.