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Peru and Africa Swiss refiners deny sourcing illegal and conflict gold

illegal mine in forest

Illegal gold mining in Peru's Madre de Dios province has damaged the environment and had a negative impact on indigenous communities

(Keystone)

A NGO report has accused two Swiss gold refiners of procuring gold from controversial suppliers in Peru and Dubai. Both refiners, Metalor and PAMP, have categorically refuted the charges.

The report by the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP), released on Thursday to coincide with the opening of the Baselworld Watch and Jewellery Fair, says that in all likelihood, Metalor continues to procure illegally-mined Peruvian gold which is linked to tax evasion and environmental destruction.

The refiner’s main supplier, the Peruvian export company Minerales del Sur (Minersur), delivered more than 47 tons of the precious metal to Metalor between 2012 and 2017. STP says that Minersur only has the right to sell gold from the Puno region, but manages four concessions in Huepetuhe, one of the main illegal gold mines located in Madre de Dios.

According to the accusations, the company exports more gold to Switzerland than officially produced in Puno, raising the suspicion that it is palming off illegal gold from Madre de Dios to Metalor.

“We have not been contacted by the NGO. We do not get even a gram of gold from Madre de Dios and all our shipments from Peru are approved by the customs and tax body SUNAT,” Jose Ramon Camino, general counsel for Metalor, told swissinfo.ch.

Dubai as conflict gold hub

The STP report also accused Swiss gold refiners of laxness concerning imports from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which it deems to be a hub for conflict gold from African countries. It pointed fingers at the Swiss refiner PAMP, which it claims obtained gold from Dubai-based companies Kaloti and Al Etihad Gold.

According to STP, Kaloti underreported gold sourced from Sudan and Liberia, and also procured metal from the conflict-ridden Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) between 2012 and 2014.

The report accused audit firm Ernst & Young Switzerland of conducting an improper third-party verification for PAMP, which could have allowed conflict gold funnelled through UAE to enter the company’s supply chain.

PAMP has categorically denied these claims, and has said that it has never had any dealings with any Dubai refineries. 

In an official response statement sent to swissinfo.ch, it said that it alerted STP of its position in January 2018, and that the NGO was “deliberately disseminating false and calumnious information with the clear intent to manipulate the Swiss public opinion in the context of the initiative for responsible multinationals”.

swissinfo.ch/ac&dos

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