Sudan has denied claims Russian entities have smuggled hundreds of tonnes of illicit gold from its territory. Officials have called the allegations fake news and suggested that Sudan is in fact looking to revive its economy through gold mining.

The Rise in Russia’s Gold Holdings

The Sudanese Ambassador to Russia Onor Ahmed Onor recently dismissed claims entities from the latter country have smuggled “hundreds of tonnes of illicit gold” from his country’s territory for years. In pushing back against the allegations, Onor called the report published by the British Telegraph newspaper “fake news” and added the story had been “created from the imagination” of the story’s writer.

In its report, the Telegraph newspaper said Russia, which is the world’s third-largest producer of gold, had overseen the more than 300% growth in the amount of gold held at the country’s central bank since 2010. The report alleges that most of the gold was sourced from Africa with Sudan being at the center of the smuggling. The gold holdings, according to the report, would be used to shield the Russian currency from the effects of Western sanctions against Moscow.

The report cites an unnamed executive of one of Sudan’s largest gold companies who alleges that the precious metal is smuggled via “small planes from military airports dotted across the country to Russia.”

40 Gold Buyers Arrested

Meanwhile, Onor’s rejection of the smuggling claims followed reports that Sudan’s military government is in fact planning to use the country’s 50-per-tonne-year gold mining industry to avert a possible collapse of the economy. As reported by VOA, the Sudan military government’s second in command, General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, recently met with gold miners who pledged to deliver the precious metal to the central bank.

The report also said Dagalo, who is also known as Hemeti, had talked about how illegal gold buyers — 40 of whom had been arrested — are not the problem. Instead, the military ruler points a finger at the unknown parties that sell the precious metal to smugglers. He added: “We will find out.” However, as noted in the report, Hemeti did not give details with respect to the nationalities that had been arrested for illicit gold transactions.

Although the Sudanese government officials have rejected the Russian gold smuggling claims, VOA reported that Hemeti had visited Moscow prior to the start of the hostilities in Ukraine. During the visit, it was reported the military ruler had discussed increasing cooperation between Sudan and Russia.

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