The US Government has sanctioned four gold mining companies and one individual over connections to the Russian paramilitary organisation Wagner Group.  

Wagner Group, which led a short-lived mutiny against the Kremlin between the 23 and 24 of June, has been linked to illicit gold mining in Africa.  

According to the US Treasury, “the Wagner Group exploits insecurity around the world, committing atrocities and criminal acts that threaten the safety, good governance, prosperity, and human rights of nations, as well as exploiting their natural resources”.  

The sanctions will affect entities in the Central African Republic, United Arab Emirates and Russia as well as an individual central to activities of Wagner Group units in Mali. 

The US Treasury says that the sanctions are a measure taken to “target the Wagner Group’s revenue streams to degrade its expansion and violence in Africa, Ukraine, and anywhere else”.  

Both the Wagner Group and its leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin, have been previously targeted with sanctions from the US, the EU, Canada, the UK, Australia and Japan. 

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According to the Financial Times, Prigozhin amassed a total of $250m (Rbs21.83bn) from natural resources obtained in exchange for security services to countries in Africa and the Middle East in the four years before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

Gold mining company Midas Resources and diamond and gold purchasing company Diamville, both of whom are Central African Republic-based, have been sanctioned.  

Additionally, Industrial Resources General Trading, an industrial goods distributor based in Dubai and purchaser of Diamville mined diamonds has been sanctioned. Russian Limited Liability Company DM participated in Diamville’s gold-selling scheme and has been sanctioned. 

Russian national Andrey Nikolayevich Ivanov was sanctioned for working “closely with Prigozhin’s entity Africa Politology and senior Malian government officials on weapons deals, mining concerns, and other Wagner Group activities in Mali”.  

US government issues an advisory 

The sanctions, announced on the 27 June, were enforced on the same day that a collection of US Government departments jointly issued an advisory for businesses investing in the sub-Saharan African gold sector.  

The advisory encourages businesses to “apply strengthened due diligence practices” against illicit actors in the gold trade. The advisory singles-out the Wagner Group, which has been accused of a number of war crimes across Africa. 

The Wagner Group has been active in Africa for several years, first entering Sudan in 2017 to dispel local uprisings against dictator Omar al-Bashir. The group entered Mali in 2021 to assist in the military junta fight against Islamist militants.