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IMF to help Africa monitor assets

WASHINGTON, Mar 12 – The International Monetary Fund said Friday it will help 16 African nations trying to stop their gold and diamond sectors from being misused to fund terrorism.

Expressing concern on increased "links between the trade in precious minerals and illicit financial flows, corruption, drug trafficking, arms smuggling and the financing of terrorism," the IMF said "a range of technical assistance programs and seminars" will be offered.

The programme will be funded with contributions from Britain, France, Kuwait, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and Switzerland, a statement said.

"Better regulation and oversight of the precious minerals sector will not only help these countries combat these phenomena, but also boost revenues and improve their fiscal situation," said Emmanuel Mathias, a senior IMF official.

The IMF said Africa earns an estimated 19 billion dollars (13.8 billion euros) in gold annually and six billion dollars in diamonds.

An unknown amount of that output however is laundered or siphoned each year for criminal purposes.

Six of the 16 countries that will lead off taking part in the workshops are: Burundi, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast, Mali, and Togo.

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