Three fraudsters, one of them Belgian, caught with 77 kilos of gold at Ouagadougou airport
Wednesday, 03 December 2014
In November, three people, a Belgian, a Canadian, and a Frenchmen, were caught with 77 kilos of gold. Members of a gold smuggling ring, they were trying to smuggle it out of Burkina Faso fraudulently, an official source said on Tuesday. The gold, which was being transported in the form of bars, had an estimated value of 2,3 million euros.
The Belgian and the Frenchmen were stopped at the Ouagadougou international airport with the gold in their luggage, which they were attempting to “illegally” take out of the country on a regular flight, according to the authorities.
The third person, a Canadian, has a gold sales and exportation business in Burkina Faso. He is considered the brains behind the fraud, and was taken into custody soon after.
The three men were placed under arrest by the Prosecutor of the Ouagadougou district court.
“During questioning, it emerged that the two people stopped at the airport had come to Burkina Faso to commit fraud selling gold. They also wanted to take this 77 kilos of gold out of the country”, said the secretary general of the Mines ministry Emmanuel Nonyarma. He added it was a record haul for Burkinabe Customs.
According to Mr Nonyarma, the manager of the gold selling company has “accomplices” at the capital’s airport. During the investigation, the suspect said he had “done the trip twice a month” on average. He had travelled with different quantities of gold, varying from “six to thirty kilograms. I have been doing it since August 2014”, he added.
The Burkina Faso gold comes from prospecting, which employs more than two million people in the very poor country. It has 17 million inhabitants.
Burkina Faso exported more than 29 tons of gold in 2013.
Fraud and corruption were common under the regime of President Blaise Compaoré, who was chased from power in October after a 27 year reign.