The Democratic Republic of the Congo is a country rich in natural resources, but for reasons which include armed conflict and disease, poverty in the DRC remains widespread.
Another factor is the theft of these Congolese resources by bad actors involved in the illegal minerals trade. That trade also threatens peace, security, and stability in the Great Lakes region.
In line with its commitment to disrupt the illegal minerals trade in the DRC and encourage mining sector transparency, the United States has imposed sanctions on Belgian businessman Alain Goetz and his network of companies. “Alain Goetz and his companies trade gold sourced from regions controlled by armed groups engaged in conflict in the DRC,” said State Department Spokesman Ned Price in a written statement. “These armed groups . . .are implicated in atrocities, including ethnic massacres, rape and forced recruitment of children.”
In announcing the sanctions, the U.S. Treasury Department wrote that the illicit movement of gold from the DRC that Goetz and his companies are involved in, is valued at hundreds of millions of dollars per year. The network of armed groups, smugglers, and companies, which generates revenue from the gold industry, does so through forced labor, smuggling, or by extorting payments from miners. These actors, the Treasury Department noted, use that revenue to finance armed conflict and enrich themselves, while depriving the DRC of tax revenue and disregarding the environment and local communities.
“Conflict gold provides the largest source of revenue to armed groups in eastern DRC where they control mines and exploit miners,” said Brian Nelson, Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence. "Alain Goetz and his network have contributed to armed conflict by receiving DRC gold without questioning its origin. Treasury has been very clear: global gold markets, at every step of the supply chain, must engage in responsible sourcing and conduct supply-chain due diligence."
The sanctions mean that all U.S. assets of designated individuals or companies are blocked, and U.S. citizens are generally prohibited from doing business with them.
“The United States will continue to support the DRC government’s efforts to tackle corruption and impunity, promote economic growth and enhance peace and security,” said State Department Spokesperson Price. “This action underscores our efforts to make sure that the U.S.-DRC Partnership for Peace, Prosperity and Preservation of the Environment delivers for the Congolese and American People.”