Since January 2014 the journalists of the Great Lakes Region, including myself, were aware of Congolese rebel movement M23 “spoils of war“. Following the decision to withdraw from the east of the Congo putting up 20 months devastating war. The withdrawal was ordered by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni to avoid a direct confrontation between the rebellion and the brigade of intervention under command of UN peacekeeping mission in Congo, MONUSCO. A direct confrontation could compromise the reinforcement of the Kampala – Pretoria aims to achieve the goal of geo strategic control of East Africa and Southern Africa. A direct confrontation could increase the friction between the member states of the East African Community (EAC), already arrived to dangerous levels due to the diplomatic war between Tanzania and Rwanda in place from 2013. Within the brigade intervention there are the troops of South Africa and Tanzania.
The spoils of war, composed by precious metals, coal, precious wood and revenue taxes is estimated at 57 million dollars, of which 23% consists of looted gold (13.5 million dollars). The main beneficiaries of this bloody treasure are: the military high command of the Congolese rebel movements M23, primarily the General Sultani Makenga (currently in exile in Uganda), the Ugandan government, senior officers of the Congolese army supposed to fight the M23, a major refinery in Dubai, and two western multinationals: one American and one European. The rich documentation in the hand of some regional journalists, however, has undergone a six-month self-censorship for security reasons. During this time no one had the courage to publish this information due to expected reactions by regional and Western powers. The news had become in practice a great scoop but not publishable.
To break the silence was the regional weekly The East African in its issue of 28 June 2014. A two-page dossier explains the network among M23, Uganda and the Congolese army that made possible this historic looting that largely exceeds the total value the looting of raw materials in DRC implemented by Uganda during the Pan-African war (1998 – 2004): approximately $ 10 million as estimated by the United Nations, which in 2010 forced the government to Kampala damages Kinshasa government. Decision that Uganda largely ignored until now.
There are still shrouded in a cloak of mystery and silence the identity of the refinery of gold in Dubai and the two western multinationals. On the other hand we talk about the complicity of LMBA (London Bullion Market Assets), the only stock exchange in the world to determine gold buying and selling prices and the commercial transaction rules of golden traceability to prevent the market from being flooded of gold extract from the areas of conflict. The spoils of war amounts to 4 tons of gold, half of which sold to Dubai from December 18 to 26, 2013, thanks to a series of business transactions hyper secret, organized by the Government of Uganda in collaboration with the refinery in Dubai and the two western multinationals. Copies of the documents relating to this transaction in which they appear the identity of the partners – accomplices: European, American and Middle Eastern countries, it would be in possession of a Kenyan journalist but not published at the time for serious safety reasons. The reticence, fortunately broken by The East African, was due to the awareness of journalists in possession of evidence, testimony and documentation, about personal risk in publishing a preview of the news.
Awareness reinforced by the attitude of the United Nations which, while being aware of the immense trafficking, has decided to implement an information blackout in order to permit a monitoring reinforcing of the trade in precious metals, monitoring actually in force.
The first clear evidence available to the public is represented by the statistics on gold price trend at the LMBA London for the month of December. The international price for a kilogram of gold recorded on December 2, 2013 was $ 30,221. On December 18 there was a sudden drop of 5%. The negative trend will further decline of 5.8% December 20. At the end of the month the price of gold will be decreased by 6.2%: $ 28,345 per kilo. The substantial fall in the international price coincides with the dates of the “underground” transactions concerning the sale of gold looted by the M23 in the Congo. Two tons of gold sold on the international market price has decrease gold price of 6.2%. December 02, 2013 gold price will be restored only February 26, 2014 when a kilogram of gold will be quoted $ 30,230.
As well as a significant quantity of gold may have been placed on the market to Dubai from a country known to be involved with the instability of the Congo, escaping all international controls, it remains a mystery that hints at the international complicity, and feeds the suspicion of a involvement of high finance. A complicity that was the determining factor in making possible the sale of a similar amount of illegal gold despite the restrictions imposed by U.S. law against conflict minerals: the Dodd-Frank Act and similar legislation recently passed by the European Parliament. The remaining treasure (other 2 tons of gold) stored in various locations safe protected by the Ugandan army, is at present, unmarketable. The United Nations, in cooperation with the U.S., EU and most international financial institutions, is implementing a strict monitoring of all transactions in gold of the Great Lakes region to intercept M23 gold.
This unity of international purpose has forced even the Ugandan government, the main author of the plunder, to apply scrupulously the monitoring of gold purchases. A paradoxical situation: a country that has organized the looting and is hiding the illicit gold in its territory that must temporally bloc all selling operation. The totality of Western and Asian companies legally operating in the gold market in Uganda are very careful not to buy part of this gold because such operation would be easily traced by the control mechanisms. We are speaking about a serious international crime: the financing of rebellions and armed groups. The total embargo on M23 gold, implemented by foreign companies operating legally in the precious metals sector in the region of the Great Lakes: Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda, has forced M23 leaders to opt for unconventional indirect means.
The first way was to implement the sale of 2 tons still kept in areas militarily protected within Uganda, through the parallel channel connected to the international mafia. Attempt not grieve reached, since no fluctuation in the international gold price of a certain level has been recorded at the LMBA London after the “big shot” in December 2013. Attempting to use the black market would also involve the financial circuits and Italian business.
In March, 2014, inside of the colorful arena of international investors in Uganda appear a young Italian broker with huge amounts of capital available for the purchase of gold. According to statements made by the same careless young Italian (about 31 years old) during social events, the funds have been made available by two well-known Italian entrepreneurs of Rome of Jewish origin with close connections with the powers of Italy.
Relying on the support of a well-known Italian citizenship and former public servant residing in Uganda for 20 years, the Italian “broker” have attempt to install a laboratory for verification of authenticity and a small gold refinery at a private residence rented in residential area Mwenga, Kampala. No registration of the firm, even on false pretenses, was made by this “broker” and its alleged Italian Jewish financiers. Their emissary was in possession of a tourist visa valid for three months. The funds, approximately € 800,000 deposited in a foreign currency account with the possibility of funding of up to € 2 million per month, were kept at the famous Egyptian financial institution in Uganda: Cairo International Bank. A well-known institution involved in several national financial scandals, suspected of money laundering and for having “saved” 14% of deposits and assets belonging to the Mubarak family, at the time of the fall of the Egyptian regime during the Arab Spring.
Because of the young Italian broker unusual behavior, the clandestine activities of this improvised and folklorist modern Italian gold seeker, have attracted the attention of a Kenyan journalist who conducted a mock negotiation pretending to be a gold seller from DRC. As reported by the journalist on false pretenses, during the two meetings that took place at the Sheraton Hotel in Kampala, the young Italian always assisted by fellow countryman residing in Kampala, would have clarified the complete willingness to buy gold without certification of origin, the ideal situation to place M23 gold. According to Italian young man affirmed, the transport was free from problems because he was already in possession of fake permits issued by the Ugandan government and a preferential runway at the airport of Ciampino, Italy, away from prying eyes and unexpected controls.
The journalistic investigation has not been completed due to the sudden closure of the buying activities and the return of the young broker in Italy. According to the information available, but not confirmed, the hypothetical investor from Rome decided to suspend the operation due to the behavior of their extravagant and completely naive man in Uganda. According to testimonies collected also from Ugandan high class prostitutes, the young broker would not have made any secret of his mission and buying methodology, becoming soon a well-known personality in Kampala worldly circles: Big Mike, The Babbles and Cayenne. In less than two months the illegal activities of the young broker had become public domain in Kampala, making it clearly impossible to implement operations that require a proper environment of discretion and secrecy, giving rise to the decision of investor to call back their country representative.
Personally I cannot confirm the news of the Kenyan colleague, despite he claims to have sufficient documentation to substantiate the findings of the investigation, evidences not viewed by me. However, I can confirm the existence of a young Italian gold broker which was telling a similar story between April and May 2014. As a matter of fact that I can confirm that the young gold broker and his Italian consultant are not currently present in Uganda. The first for business reasons and the second for a vacation of two months…
The second way attempted to recycle M23 gold is to try to sell it by passing it as gold from South Sudan, through the complicity of several army generals south Sudan (SPLA) still loyal to President Salva Kiir. Since last May, international gold buyer legally operative in Uganda are receiving bids from South Sudanese Generals relating to gold sale in quantities of 150, 200 kg per month. The recycling operation of M23 gold seems to find serious difficulties due to the reluctance of international companies to implement l purchases of gold from South Sudan that are not accompanied by clear certificates of origin in accordance with the strict U.N. regulations.
M23 gold is now preserved in the secret places in Uganda and blocked by the difficulty of selling, that would not resolved soon. M23 gold is supposed to finance what? The rearmament of the Congolese rebel group M23 for a possible future reactivation of its rebellion in DRC. To ensure huge profits to Sultani Makenga and UPDF generals involved in the operation. To solve the deficit of the Ugandan government in the financing of wars to procure, secret wars and peacekeeping missions in Somalia, Central African Republic and South Sudan. According to the results of the journalistic investigations conduct which this article represents only a preview intentionally not detailed, no international companies is involved in buying M23 gold, destined to languish for a long time in places secret in Uganda.
Goma. Democratic Republic of Congo.