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Billion-Dollar African Gold Smuggling Thrives in UAE: An Eye-Opening Study Reveals!

The United Arab Emirates (UAE), popularly recognized for its expansive skylines and mega shopping malls, has a lesser-known claim to fame as the top destination for smuggled African gold, a trend worth billions according to a recent study. This multi-billion-dollar industry implicates a complex web of individuals, groups, and nations; all intricately intertwined in a relentless pursuit of wealth.

A study carried out by The Sentry, an investigative and policy team, has clearly chronicled this unsettling trend. Their findings depict the UAE as the leading global recipient of illicit gold, transported from African countries such as Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Sudan, and Central African Republic. The study found that, annually, gold worth billions of dollars is informally imported into the UAE from these nations, bypassing key taxes and sidestepping important regulations that would deter human rights abuses linked to the gold mining sector.

In recent years, the lure for African gold has exponentially increased in the UAE, primarily due to the driving demand in Dubai, a city synonymous with wealth, luxury, and consumerism. Dubai’s gold market, one of the largest worldwide, has been an alluring destination for African miners who face economic adversity in their home nations. Unfortunately, the lack of enforcement of regulations and oversight has created a haven for illicit gold trade.

The unregulated movement of such magnitude of African gold brings into focus the issue of conflict minerals. Much of this gold comes from mines in the DRC and Sudan, where it is often exploited in conditions of extreme human rights abuses and environmental degradation. Consequentially, this profit ends up financing armed groups, further fueling conflict in these already unstable areas.

The Sentry’s study also highlighted the ineffective international regulations contributing to the thriving illicit gold trade. Existing laws and standards aimed at responsible gold sourcing and curbing illicit financial flows, such as the Dodd-Frank Act in the United States and guidelines set by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), are not adequately enforced due to various loopholes.

Echoing this, it is found that the UAE’s domestic legislation has been equally ineffective in curbing the illicit trade. While the UAE introduced stricter controls over its large gold refiners in 2012 after a scandal involving conflict gold, these regulations have not stopped the continual flow of smuggled gold.

Moreover, the research cites grey areas exploited by the smugglers, including lax customs regimes and ambiguities surrounding the origin and ultimate destination of the

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