Colombia’s financial analysis authority UIAF will create a special unit to try and control criminal groups that launder money from illegal mining, Caracol Radio reports.
The Interior and Justice Minister German Vargas Lleras announced the decision Tuesday, highlighting the necessity of the project due to the use of funds from illegal mining in the financing of activities of the FARC and other illegal groups.
According to Vargas, the unit will be “a useful tool in combating the structures of these criminal organizations in every aspect.”
Senator Hernan Andrade Serrano provided his support for the initiative, pointing to the fact that in some areas of the country there are currently no officials from Colombia’s Institute of Geology and Mining (Ingeominas), to monitor mining operations, El Espectador reported.
“Gold is being exploited throughout the country and it coincides with paramilitary zones; Vichada, the south of Bolivar, Santander, Nariño and Choco … the BACRIM [emerging criminal gangs] are business partners and behind the gold … is a lot of financing of illegal activities in Colombia,” he said.
The senator indicated that the consequences of illegal mining, in addition to financing criminal groups, are the potential causes of extensive environmental damage and the loss of money for the state from a potentially highly lucrative sector.
In February this year, the government launched a separate emergency plan to try and control the country’s mines more effectively by enforcing higher levels of security for workers and seeking out and closing illegal mines.
By focusing specifically on the money laundering aspect of illegal mining, the new unit under the UIAF, an agency tasked with detecting money laundering and terrorist financing, will serve as an accompaniment to these existing operations.