Thursday, November 28, 2019

Sudan's Militia Leader and his Gold

In a speech to cheering troops, militia chief Mohamed “Hemedti” Hamdan Dagalo sympathised with the thousands of protesters who had poured onto the streets in December demanding food, fuel and an end to corruption. He hit out at officials “who take what isn’t theirs.”
“There are some people who are doing great harm, and they are the officials, not the poor,” he raged.
Now a Reuters investigation has found that even as Hemedti was accusing Bashir’s people of enriching themselves at the public’s expense, a company that Hemedti’s family owns was flying gold bars worth millions of dollars to Dubai.
Current and former government officials and gold industry sources said that in 2018 as Sudan’s economy was imploding, Bashir gave Hemedti free rein to sell Sudan’s most valuable natural resource through this family firm, Algunade. At times Algunade bypassed central bank controls over gold exports, at others it sold to the central bank for a preferential rate, half a dozen sources said. 
Airway bills and invoices, reviewed by Reuters, give a rare glimpse into Algunade’s dealings - a closely-guarded secret in a country where two thirds of the population live in poverty. The documents, covering a four-week period from the end of last year, show Algunade sent around $30 million of gold bars to Dubai, around a ton in weight.
In the past, Hemedti has spoken openly about owning gold interests, most recently in an interview with the BBC in August. “I’m not the first man to have gold mines. It’s true, we have gold mines, and there’s nothing preventing us from working in gold,” he said then.
But in response to Reuters’ questions for this article, Hemedti’s office denied any link between the commander and Algunade.

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