Pressure mounts on Swiss refinery Valcambi over questionable gold origins

Some 40% of the world's gold trade passes through Dubai. Keystone / Kamran Jebreili

Industry associations are calling on Switzerland’s largest gold refinery to clarify the origins of its gold purchased from Dubai traders.

This content was published on August 16, 2020 - 17:06

According to the German-language paper SonntagsZeitungExternal link, a rift has emerged between the Swiss Association of Traders and Manufacturers of Precious Metals and the Ticino based refinery Valcambi.

The row concerns a report by the NGO Swissaid released in July, which alleges that Valcambi is sourcing gold from dubious sources in Dubai. The refinery’s purchases from the Kaloti Group are particularly concerning because of alleged links to gold from conflict regions in Africa.

Although the association doesn’t name a specific company, Cédric Léger, the CEO of the association, leaves little doubt.

"The association asked for clarification of the situation by letter," said Léger. “And only an answer that removes all doubts about wrongdoing is acceptable from our point of view. A simple denial is not enough for us."

In the letter sent on July 31, Léger asks Valcambi CEO Michael Mesaric to confirm or refute the allegations and also explain what corrective measures it will take if necessary.

Mesaric confirmed to SonntagsZeitung that the company received the letter but rejected the allegations.

The United Arab Emirates is now the most important country of origin of Swiss gold imports. Some 40% of the world’s gold now makes its way through Dubai. According to Swissaid, half of that is from Africa and much of it is mined illegally.

"It cannot be ruled out that the gold from Dubai is of dubious or potentially illegal origin or comes from regions that are higher risk," warns association president Léger. Another Swiss refinery Metalor decided several years ago to no longer process gold from Dubai.

The Responsible Jewellery Council has also said it is investigating the Swissaid allegations.

Léger told the paper that the association is in favor of stricter regulation and more transparency in the gold supply chain. "We take the Swissaid report seriously and do not doubt it." He adds, "gold from dubious sources has no place in Switzerland.

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