UAE - The chief of the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) has rubbished a new agency report which claims African governments are “desperate to recoup lost revenue” from an illicit network in Dubai where tonnes of their “gold goes missing every year”.

In a scathing LinkedIn post titled ‘Controlling the narrative’ Ahmed Bin Sulayem, executive chairman and CEO of DMCC said the article referenced interviews with non-specified government officials in Africa and quoted just two ministers across the vast continent.

He also hit back at Nigeria’s minister of mines and steel development, Olamilekan Adegbite. The minister had claimed in the article that European nations have far more stringent measures to check the certificates of gold exports from the country of origin than Dubai where “they look the other way”

Bin Sulayem said he finds the minister’s perception of a utopian and highly ethical Europe farcical, particularly considering the savage, historic treatment of his own country and the wider continent at the hands of their colonisers.

“The Nigerian minister’s suggestion that Dubai, and Dubai alone is inherently corrupt in the global gold trade is not only a slur, but typical of the distorted narrative that has been propagated by those who are most threatened,” he said.

“Perhaps the minister is unaware of the criminal complaint lodged against Argor-Heraeus SA for its role in refining three tonnes of pillaged gold ore from the Democratic Republic of the Congo between 2004 – 2005, thereby making its actions a war crime, or more recently MMTC-PAMP’s involvement at the North Mara mine in Tanzania where documented human rights abuses included murder and rape,” he added.

Bin Sulayem said the only way to truly solve the problem is to work together as a global community.

Curiously, the Nigerian minister Adegbite spoke of the many challenges facing the mining industry in his country during his address at the Lagos Business School in November 2021,

Adegbite particularly highlighted issues such as lack of data and geo-science information, weak mining institution, lack of new technology, skills and training and limited engagement with key stakeholders, poor revenue generation and leakages, among a raft of other challenges.

Bin Sulayem said the minister would then also concede that Dubai isn’t the primary issue in his country’s mining supply chain.

“While many of these challenges fall at the feet of the Nigerian government, the UAE has continuously reached out to cooperate with the international community to combat crime and illicit activity, most recently by engaging with organisations such as FATF, HMRC, the FBI and the United Nations to combat money laundering and counter terrorism financing,” he wrote on the blog where he seeks to uncover the “immoral trinity of weak governance, big business and the mainstream media.”

He also extended an open invitation to the minister to join him in supporting his call for an outright ban on hand-carry doré gold bars to stem the flow of illicit gold.

Bin Sulayem said the said article attacked the Emirate but gave other refining centres and producing nations a free pass. “Bearing in mind the complete supply chain and volume of bullion sent to Europe each year, there are many other actors, elements and challenges in the gold market. Not just Dubai.”

He said the numerous countries were referenced throughout the article but no onus was placed on their respective governments to better police artisan mining communities and border controls.

“I have been a major advocate for the complete ban of hand-carry gold doré bars since addressing an audience in Ghana in 2016, but am yet to be contacted by any relevant minister or leader from the continent despite my consistent requests for international cooperation,” he said.

He said the global news agency article lacks credibility and grossly inaccurate.

“In order for the article to stand up, it is important to acknowledge that the African countries in question have complete, accurate and reliable data – an unlikely scenario given that of the nine countries where gold smuggling is “rampant”, five fall comfortably into the bottom 22 per cent of the world’s most corrupt countries. “The global gold market, freighted with politics, commercial competition and national rivalries, is complicated, far reaching and certainly deserves the space that the news agency afforded it. However, it deserves better than schoolboy analysis.”

He said there are bad actors, criminal enterprises and holes in the global systems that need to be addressed and carefully analysed as a community in order to make meaningful progress.

“My concern about this article and its Dubai-bashing agenda does not blind me to the constant need to review and – where necessary – reform,” he said.

“The DMCC, which I serve as Executive Chairman and CEO has not just been in the vanguard of calls to stop the hand-carry of gold doré, a traffic that is wide open to abuse, but an integral part of the UAE’s complete reform and restructure of gold and bullion trading which will come into operation later this year. We have long embraced the OECD standards and are determined to lead the world in ethical, efficient gold markets. We expect fair competition and welcome informed criticism, however, the subject is too important for holiday journalism.”  

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