Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) says its ready to be investigated as far as its involvement in the Congo illegal gold trade is concerned.
At the start of May, we carried a story in which Ugandan top military officers were being linked to dirty gold deals in the neighbouring Congo.
Enough Project, a Washington-based nongovernmental organisation, in its reported titled: “Congo’s Conflict Gold Rush: Bringing gold into the legal trade in the Democratic Republic of Congo,” says gold is transited through Uganda and Burundi and sold in Dubai.
The report said the trade in illegally mined and smuggled “conflict gold” is fuelling both high-level military corruption and violent rebel groups in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
The illicit conflict gold supply chain, according to the report, moves mainly through Uganda and Burundi, where military officers allegedly also profit.
Army spokesperson, Lt Col Paddy Ankunda, in response said, UPDF took the allegations seriously demanding evidence.
“UPDF takes seriously allegations in Enough Project Report that some officers could have been involved in DRC gold trade,” Ankunda said.
He urged leaders at Enough Project to bring out good evidence that can help UPDF to investigate alleged involvement in DRC gold trade.
“UPDF will cooperate in investigating further allegations of UPDF officers’ involvement in DRC gold trade,” Ankunda clarified.
Gold worth at least $400m was smuggled out of the Democratic Republic of Congo to Uganda and other East African countries in 2013.
In total, the five deals cost the DR Congo $1.36 billion, about twice the country’s combined annual budget for health and education in 2012.
The UN estimated that about $271 million’s worth of gold — two-thirds of the total value of smuggled DR Congo-extracted gold — passed through Uganda last year costing the Ugandan government $2.7 million in tax revenues.
In 2014 report, United Nations named four Ugandan companies involved in smuggling gold including; Uganda Commercial Impex (UCI) and Machanga Limited which are already under UN sanctions.
It said illegal gold is sold in anonymous offices in upscale areas like Kololo, Kanjokya, Kamwokya and Muyenga.