Skip to comments.How 7.4 Tons of Venezuela’s Gold Landed in Africa—and Vanished
Posted on 06/18/2019 9:26:28 PM PDT by luv2ski
ENTEBBE, UgandaThe government of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro is selling off his countrys gold reserves. Some of it has passed through a secretive operation in East Africa, a gambit that evades U.S. sanctions.
On two early-March flights, at least 7.4 tons of gold with a market value over $300 million moved from Venezuela to a refinery in Uganda, say officials in Venezuela and Uganda, a foreign diplomat and Venezuelan opposition lawmakers, who have concluded Mr. Maduros government exported the ingots.
The gold arrived on a Russian charter jetliner in two shipments at the international airport in Entebbe, says Ugandan national-police spokesman Fred Enanga. The accompanying paperwork identified the ingots, some with stamped labels partially scratched off, as Venezuelan central-bank property, says a senior Ugandan police officer who saw the bars and documents. Flight records show the trips originated in Caracas, Venezuela.
The shipments expose one link in a global underground economy many suspect is helping Mr. Maduro cling to power by bypassing the U.S.-dominated international finance system. Washington has recognized opposition leader Juan Guaidó as Venezuelas legitimate president, slapped financial and other sanctions on Venezuelan officials and institutions, and threatened penalties for others doing business with the regime.
(Excerpt) Read more at wsj.com ...
The standoff between the two leaders is reverberating beyond Venezuela, with some 50 countries joining the U.S. in backing Mr. Guaidó while others side with Mr. Maduro. What was once Latin Americas richest economy is starving, its oil sales have dwindled and citizens are suffering through dayslong power outages and shortages of basic goods.
Gold sales, U.S. and other officials say, are one of the governments final financial lifelines.
The gold that arrived in Entebbe passed through African Gold Refinery Ltd., or AGR, in a compound about 500 yards from the old runway before being exported to the Middle East, Ugandan police say.
The refinery started operations in 2015. Some of the gold it processed was allegedly smuggled from conflict-torn eastern Congo and other African nations, according to officials with Ugandan police, the countrys Financial Intelligence Authority and regional smugglers.
Gold from AGR has made its way into supply chains at U.S. companies including General Motors Co. , General Electric Co. and Starbucks Corp. , the firms filings for 2018 with the Securities and Exchange Commission show, despite U.S. measures to discourage use of so-called conflict minerals from Congo.
GM prohibits suppliers from using forced or involuntary labor or engage in corrupt business practices, a spokesman says. GE declined to comment. Starbucks didnt respond to requests for comment.
Would make great chess pieces.
AGR General Manager Cherry Anne Dacdac says the company hasnt processed smuggled or conflict gold and declines to comment on the March shipments. She says all AGRs business is legal and that in a March 26 management meeting it agreed it wont accept transactions related to Venezuela.
AGR has processed and exported more than 38 tons of gold since it started operations, Ms. Dacdac says. The scale of its operation helped drive gold in 2018 to overtake coffee as the leading export from Uganda, which mines little of it.
The refinery appears to act with support from Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, court and other documents reviewed by the Journal suggest. A spokesman for Mr. Museveni says the president backs the plant just as he does all other investors in his quest to transform Ugandas economy.
The Maduro governments prior gold sales have been an open point of contention. Between late 2017 and Feb. 1, 2019, the central bank sold at least 73.3 tons of gold, with a market value of around $3 billion, to companies in the United Arab Emirates and Turkey, the National Assemblys finance commission announced in February.
The White House on Nov. 1 announced sanctions intended to stop Venezuelan gold sales. Since then, several dozen more tons have been removed from the central bank and secretly exported, say opposition lawmakers and a person familiar with the banks reserves. The bank for weeks was left without power and water.
Its a fire sale, says one of the lawmakers, Ángel Alvarado, who is on the finance commission. The regime is scraping the barrel, selling off anything of value to keep itself afloat.
A U.S. Treasury Department official says: Treasury is committed to holding accountable those operating corruptly in Venezuelas gold sector.
Spokesmen for Venezuelas central bank and Information Ministry didnt respond to requests for comment. The Maduro government has said little publicly about its gold sales and routinely dismisses sanctions and accusations of wrongdoing as part of an international campaign to besmirch Caracas.
Mr. Goetzs gold
AGR was founded in 2014 by Alain Goetz, 54, a Belgian businessman who has worked more than three decades in the African gold trade.
More at link.
Sounds like what happened in Ukraine. Only Obama brought it here and it vanished.
Could be the cheap beer talking tonight though (Diana, I couldn't afford the good stuff until Friday, the van broke down lol).
I am far more worried about governments, including the USA, being able to track, tax, surveil, prosecute, and politicize my every financial transaction I make. gold is the currency of freedom. Printed, fiat, centrally-controlled money is the currency of statists and marxists
Recently reported Maduro was looking for an exit before his Military turns against him.......not unusual for these dictators to move the nations wealth into other countries coffers for their easy access before they leave. Guess they figure they’re entitled to it. A bird in hand so to speak.....
When will Ian Fleming bring this story to the screen.
Unreal. Waiting for more detail.
Gold for black. Platinum for white.
Having tons of gold have got to be a nightmare. Moving it is a vulnerability. You have to guard it, and guards the guards.
I give that a 17% chance of being right.
This would be where the Mission Impossible Force hatches a complicated plan to divert the gold into a fund to rebuild Venezuela after the Communists flee, leaving the corrupt Commies with gold-plated lead bars. If there were such a force.
Yes, because freedom loving leaders know that being able to track every transaction and every bit of money keeps us safe.
Any other bright ideas?
When will Ian Fleming bring this story to the screen.
Gold was also money for a free people. The government confiscated somewhere around 20,000 tons criminalizing a basic element of the periodic table.
Just because something or some thing can be used in bad ways by bad people doesn’t really mean anything, if you stop and think about it. Or is there some greater truth we’re supposed to draw from that?
[Would make great chess pieces.]
I like it. Once I’m worth over $100 million, I’m gonna have a nice set made.
[Gold for black. Platinum for white.]
I like it.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.