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DRC gold business in Kampala is an open secret

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Kampala-The Congo-gold business in Uganda is an open secret. It is lucrative, war keeps running extends from Kivu to Dubai and is sponsored by the highest authority reports Germany freelance correspondent in Kampala.

“Aurums Roses” is on the plastic plate on the silver gate. A Congolese opens the gate. But only a crack. Behind him, a video camera filming every visitor. “The boss is not there, he is in Nairobi,” he hisses. Then he slams the door and pushes against the inside of the bolt. A few minutes later, an Indian rises from a motorcycle taxi. He pulls out his cell phone: “Boss, are you there?” He asks – and opens the gate.

The single-storey house in the Kajokya Street, high on a hill, the Ugandan capital Kampala, is notorious. For here the blood from the Congo gold is washed. This says the recent expert report of the UN sanctions committee that monitors compliance with the arms embargo against armed groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“The majority will be shipped via Kampala to Dubai,” says the author of the UN report, Dinesh Mahtani. Gold is the most important revenue source of the irregular militias in eastern Congo, especially the Rwandan Hutu militia FDLR (Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda). But Congo’s army earns a lot on smuggling.

When the UN investigators last year, followed in the footsteps of the gold from the Congo, they landed in Kampala in the Kajokya Street. For here once the seat of the trading company UCI (Uganda Commercial Impex was). Thehe company was set to 2007, the UN sanctions list for the Congo. “Have UCI maintains regular business relations with traders in the Congo which have close links with the militias,” the justification of the sanctions committee.

Since then it keeps a low profile in the Kajokya Street. The name plate was unscrewed. But the phone numbers of UCI and Aurum Roses are identical. And if you call there, a man with an Indian accent announces: “Yes, what can I do for you?”

The Indians have been established in Uganda’s economy. are trade relations between East Africa and South Asia, for centuries, during the British colonial Indian workers laid railway lines in East Africa and Indian businessmen settled there. 1972, under the rule of Idi Amin, they had to leave Uganda, their businesses were expropriated.

Only the current President Yoweri Museveni invited middle of one of the 90’s, back to invest in Uganda. Today they import goods from around the world that they offer in their supermarkets. Even in the construction mix the ethnic Indian families strong. They are regarded as loyal to the government business elite sign was hanging there, where today “Aurum Roses” is – “Golden Rose”.

When asked about UCI, the response of Indian business owners of Aurum Roses, Jamnadas Lodhia, harsh. “UCI has been closed since 2007, I will say to the allegations in the UN report, nothing more,” he growled over the phone. In particular, he does not want to explain what he just two months, from May through June 2009, bought $ 50,000 worth of plane tickets to fly between Burundi, Uganda, Kenya and India and forth. Annoyed, he hangs up.

But for the neighbours in the Kajokya Street remains of the Indians, who under the nickname “Chuni is known, the” dealer “,” Of course there is still handled in gold, “said one neighbour. The man shows down the road. In the side street there was another gold dealer. There, in front of the rusty Iron Gate in Bukoto Street, a man typically heard in the gaudy shirt on Congolese Kiswahili, an east African language which is spoken in eastern Congo, with the gatekeeper. It is a delivery which has not yet been paid.

Even a few streets away, in Bukoto Street, no one wants to give information about the company’s purpose. The Indian workers, who will not name his name, switches quickly from the computer screen. The plaque on the wall, he can not disappear so fast: one price for investors, the company Machanga Limited, handed over by President Museveni.

The trading company is also Machanga since 2007 on the UN sanctions list, also for trade in Congo gold. “This is all nonsense,” moves later on the telephone company director Rajandra Vaya. He had set the gold business in 2007 and now with plastic handle, he explains. And a few months ago he opened Vaya Forex, one of the largest money exchange offices in Kampala.

Money exchange offices are ideal to have to deal with large amounts of cash in various currencies. A relative Vayas, Jiggar Kumar is working, according to the UN investigation into a money exchange in Dubai, the Asian Exchange Centre. Kumar, 2008 was listed on the vendor list from Emirates Gold, one of the largest gold refineries in Dubai.

And the Indians, who rise to about one hour stay at Aurum Roses back on his motorcycle taxi, operates a currency exchange: HP Forex, staugeplagten near the main road. “The Indians there make strange business,” whispered the driver of the taxi. “The Secret Service pays me if I make reports about it.”

As expected, no one wants in the secret service to come out quite so why the Indians are spying. But asked about the gold shops, a senior officer responded with shrugs: “We can not monitor all business people,” he says and adds: It is impossible to verify where the gold originated – whether from the Congo or Uganda itself

The bulk of the gold that is smuggled from Congo via Kampala is, according to UN experts report from the mines deep in the jungle west of the East Congolese province of North Kivu in Kasugho and from the Ituri region – not far from the Ugandan border.

The gold mines in Ostkongos Kivu provinces are controlled according to the UN remains of the Rwandan FDLR militias. They exchange the gold from the miners against soap, plastic sandals, washing dishes and beer – goods which are imported from Uganda to eastern Congo.

The FDLR rebels in turn sell the gold over to a middleman company registered in the Congo, Glory Minerals, based in Butembo, the major trade hub of east DRC Glory in Butembo Minerals has three offices and maintains a local monopoly in the gold trade.

A document dated January 2009, signed by the local boss of the mine authority Kakule Kabila calls on all gold dealers in the region, “all products is to sell more of these three offices, from where they are then exported. Glory Minerals is the only trading company in the region with a gold export license.

Not only do the militias with the gold profit. François, who would not give his last name, makes herself comfortable on his porch in Kampala. It is afternoon, his daughter romps around the SUV in the driveway. The man from Cameroon who lives in Uganda for 15 years and married to a Congolese is opened, a bottle of whiskey. The ice cubes clinking in a glass.

“I have done a great deal.” François has been trading for over ten years with gold. Currently, he says, runs the business very well. He buys in the Congo for 15 to 20 U.S. dollars per gram in Kampala, the Gramm already was worth $ 25. In Dubai, even 30 to $ 40

This post has already been read 27239 times!

7 Comments

7 Comments

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