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How Zimbabwe uses gold smuggling to evade sanctions choke


Al Jazeera infiltrates gold smuggling gangs that help Zimbabwe’s government secure dollars amid sanctions.


(Al Jazeera) – Zimbabwe’s government is using smuggling gangs to sell gold worth hundreds of millions of dollars, skirting some of the consequences of tough Western sanctions imposed on the country over human rights abuses, Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit (I-Unit) can reveal.

The smuggling feeds into an enormous money-laundering operation, all facilitated by Fidelity Gold Refinery, a subsidiary of Zimbabwe’s central bank, and enabled, in some cases, directly by senior government officials and relatives of the country’s president, Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Zimbabwe’s government needs United States dollars because the local currency has no value in international trade following sustained hyperinflation over many years. Gold – the country’s biggest export – is a good way to earn dollars.

But although gold trade itself is not barred, the additional scrutiny sanctions bring on Zimbabwean officials smother the government’s ability to transact directly in the international financial system, especially in dollars, said Karen Greenaway, a former US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent who tracks illicit money flows.

“So you have to figure out other ways to do that,” she told Al Jazeera.

Meanwhile, global money launderers have undeclared cash they need to turn into legitimate money. Gold smugglers offer a way around these complications both for money launderers and the Zimbabwe government.

Read more.


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