Four convicted for illegal gold trade, money laundering

Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, George Mireku Duker, has said that the government is committed to sanitizing the mining sector, including small-scale mining.

He highlighted a recent Press Release by the Office of the Attorney-General’s Office on the subject matter of conviction of Chinese and Ghanaian illegal gold dealers is testimony to Government’s commitment.

The Press Release confirmed the conviction of four (4) persons by the Tarkwa circuit court on 5th November, 2021 for unlawfully dealing in gold and money laundering.

The persons involved were; Chen Hung Labania, a Chinese, Chen Zhili Andy, a Chinese, Stephen Arthur, a Ghanaian, and Prince Denis Aidoo, a Ghanaian.

The two Chinese nationals were found liable to pay a fine of 120,000 penalty units (Ghs 1,440,000) each or in default serve 15years each in prison.

The two Ghanaians were, also, fined 100,000 and 120,000 penalty units (Ghs 1,200,000 & Ghs 1,440,000) respectively, or in default serve prison terms of 10 years and 15 years, respectively.

“As you are aware, the court also issued some additional orders to be complied with. The conviction by the court and the severity of the penalties imposed are clear evidence of Government’s resolve to fight illegalities in the mining sector. Government in 2019 decided that the sanctions applicable to illegal mining were not severe enough to provide the warranted deterrence and hence passed Act 995 to amend and make the sanctions stiffer.

“It is, therefore, Act 995 which imposes the penalties that have been applied by the court and which is expected to deter those who will be tempted to undertake illegal activities associated with mining.

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“This is to sound a word of caution to persons involved in illegal mining activities, especially in water bodies and forest reserves. Those involved in gold smuggling and other related activities should also take note.

“Other initiatives to fight this ‘Galamsey’ menace include; Government launching “Operation Halt II” to clamp down on illegal miners. Additional to that, Government is collaborating with the Ghana National Association of Small-Scale Miners to flush out illegal miners within the industry.

“On 30th September this year, seven (7) foreigners were arrested by a task force led by myself in the Birim North District. Government will not relent in its efforts at ensuring sanity within our mining space.

“Again, Government has launched the “National Alternative Employment and Livelihood Programme”, which provides many business and livelihood options for interested individuals to venture into. This programme features the Community Mining Scheme, which provides a credible, responsible and sustainable alternative to the galamsey menace.”

He added “The scheme has been structured to receive technical support from geoscientists to operate properly. Also, the processing equipment by Commodity Monitor, commonly known as “Gold Catcher”, which is a mercury- free processing plant and is able to recover over ninety percent (90%) of the gold in ore being provided by Government through Minerals Commission to the Scheme.

“These interventions are expected to, if not deter, then attract people away from illegalities.

“Let me assure you that as a Ministry, we will not relent in our efforts at dealing with all forms of illegalities in the mining sector and also ensuring that mining is done in a more sustainable manner.

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“Finally, let me also reiterate that, currently punishments for those who are found engaging in illegal mining are much stiffer under Act 995.

“They range between 10,000 to 250,000 penalty units and/ or 15 – 25 years in prison. I will therefore, strongly urge those involved to stop and desist from the act.”