The US sanctioned gold and diamond companies that illegally fund the Wagner Group

The Russian mercenary group has been making money from illegal gold trade in Africa

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Making money from natural resources.
Making money from natural resources.
Photo: Stringer (Reuters)

One of the sources of funding for the mercenary Wagner Group is illegal gold trade in Africa. The US treasury yesterday (June 27) sanctioned four companies and one individual connected to the Wagner group and its founder and owner Yevgeny Prigozhin.

Both the Russian mercenary business and its chief, who just led a short-lived mutiny against the Kremlin, have previously been sanctioned by the the US, the EU, Canada, the UK, Australia, and Japan. In January this year, the US named the group a “transnational criminal organization.”


On the same day as the most recent sanctions, a group of state agencies responsible for national security also issued an advisory highlighting the risks related to the gold trade across sub-Saharan Africa, including conflict and terror financing, money laundering activities, sanctions evasion, human rights and labor rights abuses, and environmental degradation.

The companies in African gold trade sanctioned by the US

🇨🇫 Midas Ressources: The Central African Republic (CAR)-based mining company is affiliated with Prigozhin. Midas denied CAR government officials the ability to inspect the Ndassima mine—the site containing gold valued at more than $1 billion, for which Midas has preferential mining allowance.


🇨🇫 Diamville: The CAR-based gold and diamond purchasing company, controlled by Prigozhin, participated in a gold selling scheme converting CAR-origin gold into US dollars and transferring cash by hand. Diamville shipped diamonds mined in the country to buyers in the UAE and in Europe.

🇦🇪 Industrial Resources General Trading: The Dubai-based industrial goods distributor, a buyer of diamonds Diamville mined in the CAR, that “wittingly participated in the transfer by hand of cash to Russia” after US sanctions on various Russian financial institutions.

🇷🇺 Limited Liability Company DM: The Russia-based firm which also participated in Diamville’s gold selling scheme.

Person of interest: Andrey Nikolayevich Ivanov

The US treasury also sanctioned Russian national Andrey Nikolayevich Ivanov for being a Wagner group facilitator in Mali.


“During the spring of 2023, Ivanov worked closely with Prigozhin’s entity Africa Politology and senior Malian government officials on weapons deals, mining concerns, and other Wagner Group activities in Mali,” the federal agency said.

Africa Politology, which was sanctioned by the US Department of State in January 2023, works to oust countries that promote human rights and good governance to withdraw their presence in Africa, including discrediting the UN and suing press outlets that report on Wagner’s activities.


One big number: Wagner’s natural resources business

$250 million: How much companies linked to Prigozhin amassed 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, according to the Financial Times.


A brief overview of Wagner in Africa

Tens of thousands of Wagner’s fighters have been holding the fort in Ukraine since the start of the invasion in February 2022. But even before the conflict, the group has been working in poor, war-torn parts of sub-saharan Africa, including CAR, Sudan, Libya, Mozambique, and Mali.


In 2017, Wagner deployed hundreds of its men to put down local uprisings against the government of Sudan’s dictator Omar al-Bashir. In exchange, the Prigozhin-controlled M-Invest received exclusive rights to gold mining in Sudan.

Wagner set foot in Mali in 2021 as France withdrew its forces. It agreed to help the new military junta fight Islamist militants. In April 2022, Frances accused Wagner Group recruits of staging the burying of bodies in the country to fabricate evidence of French atrocity while committing human rights abuses of its own.


M-Invest was sanctioned by the US in July, as was another Prigozhin-related firm in the region called Meroe Gold. In May, the US sanctioned Ivan Maslov, the head of the Wagner’s paramilitary groups in Mali.

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