12 October 2017

Zimbabwe: Zim Loses 1 000kg Gold to Smuggling

Zimbabwe is losing an estimated 1 000kg of gold annually through side marketing and illicit flows. Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) financial intelligence unit's Wonder Kapofu said while the country may have mechanisms to curb gold and financial leakages, the country is still losing a significant amount as the system is not robust enough to plug off all the loopholes.Mr Kapofu indicated the need to work with Fidelity Printers and Refiners, police, border patrol for instance to help curb smuggling and any other illegal trade of the precious commodity.

"For every gram of gold we hesitate to buy, there is someone from India or Dubai ready to buy it," he said speaking to bankers at the Institute of Bankers of Zimbabwe (IOBZ) Summer School 2017 in Nyanga yesterday. As a country in need of foreign currency, we need to make sure we get as much gold coming through the official channels as possible. But when we did our survey, it showed the country is losing about a tonne of gold every year," he said.

Gold is the country's second largest foreign currency earner at 17 percent after tobacco, which accounts for 21 percent of total export shipments, according to RBZ figures. Zimbabwe is now producing an estimated 23 tonnes of gold a year. Its peak production was 27 tonnes achieved in 1999. Mr Kapofu said the long term plan was to surpass that figure in the next few years on robust monitoring mechanisms as well as strategies that enable small-scale miners easy access to Fidelity selling points as well as allow every amount of gold to be sold through the official channels.

"We know that we are producing more gold than what is going into the official channels. But there are so many gold buyers out there whether it's for e-gold transaction, as a store of value or be it money laundering. There is someone willing to buy one gram and that is how we lose," said Mr Kapofu. He highlighted the need to balance regulatory measures and other efforts that encourage official production. Indications are that the illicit outflows are not only prevalent in gold, but spread to currencies and other commodities with the country used as a hub for some illegal transactions. Mr Kapofu said the FIU worked with counterparts from across the region to detect any such illegal activities like currency flows into and out of conflict countries.

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