The European Union has added eight individuals to its sanctions list relating to the conflict in Democratic Republic of Congo, including rebel leaders and a Belgian businessman, it said on Thursday.
It extended existing sanctions against ten people until December 2023.
The restrictions include an asset freeze and a ban on entering European territory, according to a statement from the European Council.
The new list includes Willy Ngoma, spokesperson of the M23 rebel group which has been fighting Congo’s army in the east, and Alain Goetz, a Belgian businessman. Ngoma did not respond to a request for comment.
Goetz sent Reuters a statement saying his inclusion on the list was unjustified and requesting the EU retract its resolution.
The EU said that Goetz was the beneficial owner and former director of a gold mining company registered in Uganda that profits from mines controlled by militia groups in Congo’s South Kivu province.
Goetz said he has relinquished his duties with the company, African Gold Refinery, and that it has not dealt in gold from Congo.
African Gold Refinery could not be reached for comment.
The United States has also imposed sanctions on Goetz and several companies he owns or controls, which it said were involved in illegal gold exports valued at hundreds of millions of dollars per year.
The other new additions to the sanctions list were five members of different armed groups, a member of the Congolese army, and a Congolese ex-minister.
Most of them are responsible for committing serious human rights violations and abuses, and for sustaining armed conflict, the EU said.
“Today’s decision is part of an integrated EU approach aimed at supporting the efforts of the DRC authorities to establish lasting peace and stabilize the eastern part of the country,” the statement said.