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Smuggled Gold Rumors Prompt Congolese, Kenyan Investigation

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Feb. 25 (Bloomberg) -- The presidents of Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo have ordered an investigation into rumors that 2.5 metric tons of gold was smuggled from Congo into Nairobi, the Kenyan capital.

Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki agreed to allow a team of Congolese experts to stay in his country to investigate claims that a shipment of Congolese gold had arrived in the East African nation illegally, Congolese Mines Minister Martin Kabwelulu said in an interview today in the capital, Kinshasa.

“There are documents saying there was 2.5 tons of gold but they were false documents,” he said. At today’s price in London, 2.5 tons of gold would be worth about $113 million.

An estimated 80 percent of Congo’s gold exports are smuggled, according to the Ministry of Mines. Congo has been trying to cut links between mineral smuggling and armed groups in the east of the country.

The gold shipment that’s being probed doesn’t appear to be linked to the seizure of a plane carrying more than 400 kilograms of gold on Feb. 4 in Goma, capital of Congo’s North Kivu province, said Kabwelulu. Two Nigerians, a U.S. citizen and a French national are being investigated for smuggling in that case, he said.

Gold for immediate-delivery was little changed at $1,402.65 an ounce by 11:35 a.m. in London, bringing the gain this month to 5.2 percent, the most since August.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael J. Kavanagh in Kinshasa at mkavanagh9@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at asguazzin@bloomberg.net