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OFAC Sanctions One Individual, Nine Companies over Congo Gold Trade

Sanctioned parties found in Europe, Asia, and Africa

On March 17, 2022, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced that it had added Alain Goetz, a Belgian businessman, eight companies he owns or controls, and African Gold Refinery to the Specially Designated Nationals And Blocked Persons List (SDN List).  Countries represented by the new SDNs include Belgium, Uganda, United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Seychelles.

The listings are based on "the U.S. commitment to disrupt the illicit mineral trade and encourage mining sector transparency" related to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). According to the OFAC press release:

More than 90 percent of DRC gold is smuggled to regional states, including Uganda and Rwanda, where it is then often refined and exported to international markets, particularly the UAE. In eastern DRC, where there are approximately 130 active armed groups, the gold trade is a major driver of conflict. A network of armed groups, smugglers, and companies generates illicit revenue from the gold industry through forced labor, smuggling, or by extorting payments from miners. These actors use revenue from gold to finance armed conflict and enrich themselves while depriving the DRC of tax revenue and disregarding the environment and local communities.

OFAC published a press release which includes additional background on the individuals, sanctions program, and the role of conflict minerals in the DRC. Congo is the subject of a country-specific sanctions program, as well as U.S. and international export restrictions and arms embargoes (e.g., ITAR §126.1(i)).

This action is a reminder that sanctions lists are subject to daily change and sanctions programs often reach beyond the borders of the targeted country. Keep up with these and other changes with ECScreening.