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How the Kremlin is using Wagner to launder billions in African gold


Blood Gold Report: Key Findings

Turning Blood Gold Into Cash

In CAR and Sudan, where Wagner-linked entities are already subject to international sanctions, Kremlin actors rely on complex smuggling routes and corporate subterfuge tactics to extract large amounts of blood gold out of Africa to destinations such as Russia and the UAE where it can be mixed with other legitimate sources of gold and converted to cash.

In Mali, the Kremlin’s approach is designed to avoid sanctions. Blood Gold Report research shows that the four biggest mining companies operating in Mali – Barrick Gold Corporation, B2Gold, Resolute Mining and Allied Gold Corporation – continue to deliver millions in revenue to the military junta which seized control in May 2021, despite growing concerns about the humanitarian situation and documented human rights abuses including the Moura massacre where more than 500 civilians were killed by Malian troops together with Wagner mercenaries. 

How to stop the Kremlin’s blood gold system

The Blood Gold Report recommends a suite of measures which, if taken collectively, can significantly hamper Wagner and Russia’s Blood Gold operations, and deliver a major financial blow to the Kremlin, to the benefit of African security and the defense of Ukraine.

These measures include:

  • WIDEN sanctions to automatically target any party that employs Wagner’s security services, ensuring fitting punishment for Wagner’s benefactors.
  • INTRODUCE stringent supply chain controls to prevent blood gold infiltration.
  • DEMAND real responsibility from international mining companies that do business with regimes and factions that employ and fund Wagner.
  • DESIGNATE Wagner a terrorist group and set the International Criminal Court on the mercenary group’s trail to ensure justice is served.
  • DEEPEN collaboration between allies and international partners to close gaps in the existing sanctions framework.
  • INCREASE support to African democratic states, independent media, and civil society groups directly and indirectly threatened by Wagner operations on the continent to both strengthen local resilience against Wagner’s hybrid tactics and demonstrate strength against Kremlin interference.

About the Blood Gold Report

The Blood Gold Report research programme was launched in September 2023 to investigate the links between western mining companies, authoritarian African governments and Russian mercenaries.

Do you have information about the Kremlin’s Blood Gold system? Get in contact

The Blood Gold Report research team

Jessica Berlin

Political Analyst & African-European Relations Expert

David Clement

Senior Fellow, 21 Democracy

Lanre Peter Elufisan

Co-Founder and Executive Director of Ominira Initiative for Economic Advancement

Zoltan Kesz

Former Hungarian MP and civil activist

Elizabeth Hicks

US Affairs Analyst at Consumer Choice Center

For media enquiries or further information, please contact:
[email protected].