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‘Target Sudan with sanctions on gold exports’: US think-tank

March 5 - 2015 WASHINGTON
Gold mine workers get their raw gold weighed at a shop in El Fasher, North Darfur, October 2013 (Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Reuters)
Gold mine workers get their raw gold weighed at a shop in El Fasher, North Darfur, October 2013 (Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Reuters)

In order to support peace and human rights in Sudan, the USA should pressure the country’s regime economically and financially. It should connect those pressures to serious policy objectives in Sudan, to put an end to mass atrocities, and achieve a comprehensive peace agreement.

“After studying this regime for 25 years, it is my conclusion that the Khartoum government is most vulnerable to targeted, focused, relentless economic and financial pressure. Therein lies the greatest opportunity for American leverage to be deployed in support of peace and human rights in Sudan,” John Prendergast, founding director of Enough Project, said in his address to US congress members on the deteriorating situation in Sudan on Wednesday.

He pointed to the consequences of the $8.9 billion fine against the bank BNP Paribas for its transactions with Iran, Cuba, and Sudan, leading to some Arab and European banks to stop their transactions with Sudan.

Yet, despite the sanctions, “Sudan is exploiting loopholes and is still integrated to international banks through correspondent banking relationships and intermediary accounts. More enforcement is needed,” the director of the think-tank stressed.


Concentrating on Sudan’s efforts to compensate the revenues lost by the secession of South Sudan in 2011, by expanding the exploration of gold, Prendergast proposed the Congress members to introduce a resolution that “could call on banks and gold refiners to red-flag Sudanese gold as high risk, and for gold industry associations to include Sudan as a high-risk country in their conflict-free audits, in order to ascertain what gold exports from Sudan are conflict-affected.

“Much of that gold is coming from Darfur and other conflict zones where the government's consolidation of control over the country's gold mines has been fueled in part by violent ethnic cleansing in the gold mining areas by army troops and government-supported militia leaders. Gold mines have been both the site and object of conflict across Sudan, including in Blue Nile and South Kordofan.”

Furthermore, the American lobbyist stated that “given the gravity of the threat that the gold trade presents, Congress should expand the scope of Sudan's sanctions outlined in the 2006 Darfur Peace and Accountability Act, to specifically include provisions that would allow the imposition of sanctions on traders, officials, and armed leaders benefitting from the conflict-affected gold trade from Darfur.”

In this context, Prendergast recommended, “the next wave of U.S. sanctions should target the facilitators and enablers who underpin the movement of funds on behalf of the regime. This would include Sudanese banks and international banks that do business with them directly or indirectly through correspondent banking relationships. The recent fine on BNP Paribas is a model.”

Urgent action demanded

This week, Enough Project, published “Fool’s Gold. The Case for Scrutinizing Sudan's Conflict Gold Trade”, in which the author, Akshaya Kumar, sets out in detail how civilians living in communities near these Sudanese gold mining sites have suffered from violence by armed groups,  “including the Sudanese army and government-backed tribal militias.”

The report also calls for urgent action by the USA, the UN, and the international gold industry to red-flag and sanction gold from Sudan as conflict-affected.

The Enough Project had stressed the opportunity for American leverage already in December last year in its advocacy brief, “Starving War, Feeding Peace”. It proposed a number of steps for greater pressure on Khartoum: “restructuring or delaying the requested debt relief, enhanced enforcement actions against sanctions violators, with a focus on banks and other financial institutions, deepening targeted sanctions against officials and entities fueling war in Sudan, urging Qatar to stop its support to the Sudan Central Bank, and making a push to restrict markets for the sale of conflict-affected gold from Sudan”.


Related article: US lobby to hit Sudan government financially (12 June 2014)

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