Corruption Watch analysis: unaccounted gold exports worth 30bn cedis

You might have heard some time ago about the over US$3.6bn gold that was shipped out of Ghana to India without going through the necessary processes.

Compare that with the over US$6.3 billion Corruption Watch has discovered from our analysis of available data.

In 2016, information came through that between January 2014 and January 2016, a total of 101,179 kg of gold valued at US$3,607,415,756.36 was shipped out of Ghana to India alone, without going through the necessary processes. This certainly posed a high risk of money laundering and illicit financial outflows out of Ghana.

Meanwhile, figures that Corruption Watch has computed from various sources show that the US$3.6bn worth of improper gold shipments is a rather modest estimation of the potential losses to the state. Corruption Watch has worked on data for three major destinations of Ghana’s gold export – Switzerland, India and the United Arab Emirates. The analysis shows that far more gold money is going out of Ghana without officials having a clue.

The Bank of Ghana’s Summary of Economic and Financial Data for January 2017 to January 2018 provides official data on Ghana’s total gold exports for the period 2015, 2016 and 2017. Over that three-year period, the data shows that Ghana exported gold worth US$13.9183 billion or GHC67.8517 billion (using the BoG’s dollar reference rate of 4.8751 to GHC1.00 recorded for Monday January 14, 2018).

Meanwhile, data from just three destinations of the many countries that import gold from Ghana shows that over the same period 2015-2017 gold that left the shores of Ghana to those three countries amounted to at least US$ 20.1695bn or GHC98.3263bn.

The variance between the total recorded by Bank of Ghana and that for the three countries is a whopping US$6.2512bn or GHC30.4746bn. These countries are Switzerland, India and the United Arab Emirates.

Apart from BoG data, Corruption Watch sourced its data for the analysis from UN Comtrade, the Swiss government’s federal department for foreign affairs, Infodriveindia, which presents detailed analysis of India imports from Ghana as well as news portals quoting official sources divulging trade information.

The outcome of the analysis and the huge variance between the BoG’s officially reported figure and those reported on behalf of these countries confirm long-held suspicions that Ghana does not have a firm grip on its gold exports.

Often, smuggling of gold from illegal and licensed small-scale mining activities has been blamed for the huge variance in officially reported figures between Ghana and receiving countries.

Curious, for many, is the fact that in 2017 when a ban on illegal mining and small scale mining was in place, at least US$4.9855bn worth of gold was exported to Switzerland, UAE and India unreported to the BoG.

In that year, according to the Corruption Watch analysis, the BoG reported total gold exports worth US$5.7862bn while the volume of gold imports from Ghana by Switzerland, India and UAE was worth US$10.7717bn.

In January 2018, President Nana Akufo-Addo reportedly revealed that about $5 billion dollars was unaccounted for in gold exports from Ghana to the United Arab Emirates.

According to Citifmonline (now Citinewsroom) report, the president said that Senior Minister Yaw Osafo Maafo was told, while on an official visit to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, that the UAE had recorded $7 billion worth of Gold imports from Ghana in the preceding year.

In other instances, in late 2017 the BoG and the Precious Minerals Marketing Company (PMMC) were in the news for being unable to trace most of the companies involved in the 2016 export of $2.3 billion worth of gold that did not result in the repatriation of foreign currency.                                      

While it has been difficult tracing the actual culprits, it is common knowledge that many extractive sector companies have often faced accusations of tax evasion and illicit capital transfer from their operational jurisdictions to their countries of origin. Africa and the developing world usually suffer the biggest loses. 

“Customs officers, stationed at mines to observe the gold smelting process and to record the production volumes, have in many cases stayed at particular mines for more than a decade. The situation runs the risk of compromising the integrity, and therefore the effectiveness of the monitoring arrangement,” the Civil Society Platform on Oil and Gas (CSPOG) highlighted in its 2018 report on “Typology and Nature of Corruption Risks in Ghana’s Extractive Sector.”

Story by Frederick Asiamah, Journalist, Corruption Watch

E-mail: f.asiamah@cw-ghana.org

Note: This article was first published in 2019

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  1. […] gold exports to 1.5%. With a careful diagnosis would there have been another alternative? Available research shows that between 2015 and 2017, while Ghana’s official records showed that about US$13 billion […]

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