Ghana has been cited as a major transit point for the illicit shipment of gold.
Originally, a safety standards oriented company, on its illicit trading data map, identified Ghana, Sudan, Ethiopia and Uganda as major illegal gold trading routes with export destinations being Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates, and India.
In its report on the global illicit economy, Originally noted that “Local gold refineries are being extensively used to launder gold from illicit sources in an artisanal mining sector involving several million people, forced labor, and high risks.”
In an assessment of the trade data between Ghana and its three major gold trading partners—Switzerland, India and the United Arab Emirates— it revealed that over $6 billion worth of gold exports remains unaccounted for from 2013 to 2016. The figure is expected to rise significantly if all export and import data between all of Ghana’s gold trading partners were to be examined.
For example from 2013 to 2016, the gold import-export variance between Ghana and Switzerland amounted to over 3 billion dollars. While Switzerland gold import figures revealed that they had imported close to $7 billion worth of gold from Ghana, Ghana’s official records indicated an export of a little over $3 billion.
Ghana also loses over $2 billion annually in unpaid royalties and taxes on gold smuggled out of the country according to the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources.
Originally has raised concern that “Illicit gold mining is becoming a rising source of income for cartels, criminal gangs, and non-state armed groups, with the mineral sector averaging 17 percent of global threat and conflict finance, compared to drugs at 28 percent.”
The report further indicated that Capital flight from the African mineral sector has been estimated at USD 50 billion at least14 – with a total range of USD 24 to 61 billion – compared to illicit oil exports of USD 7.65 to 37.5 billion.
Illicit annual exports from extractive industries in Africa account for at least USD 31 to 98 billion, compared to USD 32 to 62 billion from Latin America, with companies typically paying only 0 to 4 percent tax on official amounts.
The report comes on the back of an investigative piece by Aljazeera which recently stoked debate about how some Ghanaian officials could be complicit in illicit gold trades and money laundering activities for a group of mafias controlling the gold industry in Africa.
A gold trader exposed in Al Jazeera’s Gold Mafia investigative documentary, Alistair Mathias, has revealed that he smuggles $40 million worth of gold from Ghana monthly.
Alistair Mathias, described by the investigative reporters as a financial architect who builds money laundering schemes for corrupt politicians, said “I’ve been doing it for about 13 years now, 14 years. In Ghana I do one ton. I do $40 million every month out of Ghana.”
He further alleged that President Akufo-Addo is his friend and lawyer.
“Ghana’s president is a good friend of mine. In fact, he was my lawyer,” Mathias was recorded saying.
He has since recanted his statements, and President Akufo-Addo has told Al Jazeera that he has no recollection of acting as a lawyer for Mathias or his company.