Piece of the cake
A villager who until recently collected taxes for the local council from the myriad businesses that have grown up around the mine said: "The (local and regional) authorities know what's going on, but they keep quiet, because every two weeks they get their piece of the cake."
Reuters reviewed copies of contracts between some of the buying offices and landowners and tenants. The contracts list fees paid to landowners, farmers, village authorities and the local and regional governments for every gram of gold mined.
One buying office also agreed to build an office and new residence for the local sub-prefect, according to documents and village authorities.
The sub-prefect, Marcel Goue, denied any wrongdoing and said the involvement of local authorities had improved the situation. "We're fighting to clean up the site," he said.
The UN investigators estimate that in addition to Wattao's gold earnings, he makes more than $1.7 million a year charging the agents in the "comptoirs" fees for the security he provides around the mine.
Based on annual production and the security fee per gram printed in the contracts, that's enough to pay the salaries of some 500 fighters, the investigators estimate.
Image: A gold prospector use a rope to climb the side of the gold mine near Gamina.