Zim loses 1 000kg gold to smug­gling

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Business - Enacy Ma­pakame in Nyanga

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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