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Zimbabwe loses 1 000kg of gold to smuggling

Zimbabwe is losing an estimated 1 000kg of gold annually through side marketing and illicit flows, according to Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) financial intelligence unit’s Wonder Kapofu.

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.

Kapofu indicated the need to work with Fidelity Printers and Refiners, police, and border patrol 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. When we did our survey, it showed the country is losing about a tonne of gold every year,” he said.

Gold is the Zimbabwe’s second largest foreign currency earner at 17% after tobacco, which accounts for 21% of total export shipments, according to RBZ figures.

Zimbabwe is now producing an estimated 23 tonnes of gold a year. Its highest production year was 1999 where production reached 27 tonnes.

Kapofu said the long term plan for Zimbabwe is to surpass that figure in the next few years by focusing on robust monitoring mechanisms as well as strategies that will 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,” he said

Kapofu concluded by saying the industry needs to balance regulatory measures and other efforts that encourage official production.

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