Illegal.Gold

Documenting the Illegal Gold Industry



Focusing on illegal gold mining operations, which cause massive destruction to the environment (deforesting rainforests and polluting them with mercury), labor trafficking and exploitation, sex trafficking, child labor, dangerous working conditions, lost tax dollars. Articles on: South African illegal gold, 29 illegal miners die.

First, a list of United States refiners listed on both COMEX and LBMA (as of 01 Apr 2017): Asahi Refining USA Inc., Kennecott Utah Copper LLC, Metalor Technologies USA Corp., Republic Metals Corporation. Listed on COMEX only: Heraeus Metals New York LLC, United Precious Metals Refining Inc.

Government Complaints, Lawsuits, Allegations:

[The point of this list is not to condemn refiners that have accepted illegal gold, it is to show how widespread the problem is. Most of the companies have already made statements about how they have policies to prevent importing illegal gold, how they have documentation, etc. The mere fact that a refiner purchased illegal gold does not necessarily mean that the refiner violated the law.]

CompanyYearCountryDescription
Argor-Heraeus S.A.November, 2013CongoTRIAL, a Swiss organization, filed a criminal complaint against Argor-Heraeus S.A. It alleges that Argor-Heraeus knew or should have known that almost 3 tons of gold ore they refined was pillaged from the Democratic Republic of Congo by an armed group whose activities were financed by the traffic in this gold ore. The gold was refined between July, 2004 and May, 2005. It states "the Swiss Federal Prosecutor’s Office (SFPO) acknowledged that Argor did refine looted gold, and that it violated its duty of diligence."
Aram Asset Management
(incorrectly known as 'Akam Asset')
December, 2012PeruPeru seized $18.8M (508kg) of gold due to be sent by air to 4 refineries: Kaloti Metals & Logistic (KML), NTR Metals, Aram Asset Management, and Italpreziosi (Italy). The gold came from 6 export companies being investigated for money laundering cases linked to illegal gold mining.
Asahi Refining USA Inc.2016ColombiaA Bloomberg article accuses Asahi Refining, Metalor Technologies, and NTR Metals (Elemetal) of importing illegal gold from Colombia. Comparing purchase and production records "makes it mathematically impossible that they bought only the legitimate stuff."
Atomic Gold Inc.2013PeruAccording to STP, Atomic Gold was the exclusive buyer of gold from E&M, after Metalor stopped buying from them. E&M was accused of sourcing illegal gold.
EngelhardPeru1999This case is quite different from the rest. Peru seized over $30M of assets and tax refunds from Engelhard. At the time, Peru charged buyers an 18% tax on gold, but would refund it for exporters. They seem to have alleged that Engelhard was buying illegal gold: gold that was exported from Peru, re-imported, and exported again with phony documents stating that the tax was paid (when in fact it had not). One sources refers to Peru claiming that Engelhard "set up a network of shell companies run by front men" and "[sourced] contraband gold from Ecuador and Bolivia." Engelhard denied any wrongdoing.
Italpreziosi (Italy)December, 2012PeruPeru seized $18.8M (508kg) of gold due to be sent by air to 4 refineries: Kaloti Metals & Logistic (KML), NTR Metals, Aram Asset Management, and Italpreziosi (Italy). The gold came from 6 export companies being investigated for money laundering cases linked to illegal gold mining.
Kaloti Jewelry (Dubai)2014MoroccoA whistleblower (an accountant) said, among other things, that Kaloti imported gold that was plated in silver to hide its origin. Also mentioned were $5.2B of cash transactions in 2012 with no due diligence on 1,000 of them, and how some newly mined gold was classified as scrap (which could disguise conflict metals).
Kaloti Jewelry (Dubai)2014n/aKaloti Jewelry was delisted from the DMCC (in Dubai) for not meeting practical guidance, although it is not entirely clear why this occurred.
Kaloti Metals & Logistic
a/k/a KML
December, 2012PeruPeru seized $18.8M (508kg) of gold due to be sent by air to 4 refineries: Kaloti Metals & Logistic (KML), NTR Metals, Aram Asset Management, and Italpreziosi (Italy). The gold came from 6 export companies being investigated for money laundering cases linked to illegal gold mining.
Kaloti Metals & Logistic
a/k/a KML
June, 2016EcuadorTwo Ecuadorian companies, Spartan del Ecuador S.A. and Clearprocess Cía. Ltda., were raided with 7 executives arrested and charged with money laundering. The two companies allegedly bought gold from Peruvian gold smugglers. The two companies were Ecuador's principal gold exporters, sending the gold to Republic Metals Corporation (RMC), Kaloti Metals and Logistics (KML), and MVP Imports (for NTR Metals).
PAMP
a/k/a MKS
July, 2012PeruPeruvian company Universal Metal Trading's general manager was investigated for tax fraud,a accused of receiving gold of "unknown origin". Several sources say that MKS/PAMP and Metalor bought millions of dollars of gold from this and other related companies that are also under investigation. STP reports that UMT sold all of its gold to PAMP in 2012.
Metalor Technologies USA
(a/k/a Metalor)
2004South AmericaMetalor pleaded guilty to money laundering, after doing a lucrative business with some South American companies that sent gold to Metalor for refining or purchased gold from Metalor.
Metalor Technologies USA
(a/k/a Metalor)
2005Uganda, CongoMetalor reportedly bought metal from Uganda that originated in the Republic of Congo. Ugandan company Machanga, Ltd. bought gold from the Congo and sent all its gold to Metalor for refining. About $13M of gold was involved.
Metalor Technologies USA
(a/k/a Metalor)
2012-
2013
PeruAccording to STP, Metalor was the exclusive buyer of gold from AS Perú and E&M (Metalor stopped buying from them around October, 2013). Both AS Perú and E&M were accused of sourcing illegal gold.
Metalor Technologies USA
(a/k/a Metalor)
January, 2015ColombiaThe Colombian company Goldex, founded in 2001, was accused by Colombian prosecutors of laundering $800M for armed groups and mafias. Much of the gold was listed as having been bought from people who are either dead or non-existent. Over $1.4B of allegedly illegal gold was exported over 6 years, 97% going to Republic Metals Corporation (RMC) or Metalor Technologies USA.
Metalor Technologies USA
(a/k/a Metalor)
2015PeruAn article states that in January, 2014 Peru confiscated gold belonging to Famyr Group EIRL, allegedly destined for Metalor, and that the Peruvian prosecutors office assumed that the gold came from an illegal source.
Metalor Technologies USA
(a/k/a Metalor)
2015ColombiaGold exporter Giraldo y Duque is being investigated for having 'suspicious suppliers', connections to drug traffickers, and corruption. From 2008 to 2012, its biggest customers were Republic Metals Corp. and Metalor Technologies USA. Interestingly, it appears that the Colombian office of NTR Metals used an attorney that Giraldo y Duque used.
Metalor Technologies USA
(a/k/a Metalor)
2016ColombiaA Bloomberg article accuses Asahi Refining, Metalor Technologies, and NTR Metals (Elemetal) of importing illegal gold from Colombia. Comparing purchase and production records "makes it mathematically impossible that they bought only the legitimate stuff."
MVP Imports Ltd.
a/k/a NTR Metals, Elemetal
June, 2016EcuadorSee NTR Metals. MVP was the importer of record, but court documents show the metal was ultimately purchased by NTR Metals, and the court document make it appears as though NTR Metals coordinated the importing.
NTR Metals
a/k/a Elemetal
2011United StatesIn early 2011, 3 burglars broke into a jewelry store in Dallas, TX and stole $6M of merchandise and melted it. They then sold the gold in 85-pound Home Depot buddy buckets to a broker who sold the metal to NTR Metals.
NTR Metals
a/k/a Elemetal
December, 2012PeruPeru seized $18.8M (508kg) of gold due to be sent by air to 4 refineries: Kaloti Metals & Logistic (KML), NTR Metals, Aram Asset Management, and Italpreziosi (Italy). The gold came from 6 export companies being investigated for money laundering cases linked to illegal gold mining.
NTR Metals
a/k/a Elemetal
2013PeruAccording to STP, NTR Metals was the exclusive buyer of gold from AS Perú since November 2013, after Metalor stopped buying from them. AS Perú was accused of sourcing illegal gold.
NTR Metals
(as MVP Imports)
a/k/a Elemetal
June, 2016EcuadorTwo Ecuadorian companies, Spartan del Ecuador S.A. and Clearprocess Cía. Ltda., were raided with 7 executives arrested and charged with money laundering. The two companies allegedly bought gold from Peruvian gold smugglers. The two companies were Ecuador's principal gold exporters, sending the gold to Republic Metals Corporation (RMC), Kaloti Metals and Logistics (KML), and MVP Imports (for NTR Metals).
NTR Metals
a/k/a Elemetal
2016ColombiaA Bloomberg article accuses Asahi Refining, Metalor Technologies, and NTR Metals (Elemetal) of importing illegal gold from Colombia. Comparing purchase and production records "makes it mathematically impossible that they bought only the legitimate stuff."
NTR Metals
a/k/a Elemetal
2017Argentina, Bolivia, Carribean, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, PeruBloomberg runs a story on "How to Become an International Gold Smuggler", which comes out days before 3 NTR Metals employees are arrested for money laundering. The indictment states that NTR Metals imported $3.5B of mostly illegal gold, primarily from Peru and Colombia. The article quotes Peruvian authorities as saying "NTR knows the gold is illegal. It’s cheaper than legitimate gold. That’s the business."
PAMP
a/k/a MKS
July, 2012PeruPeruvian company Universal Metal Trading's general manager was investigated for tax fraud,a accused of receiving gold of "unknown origin". Several sources say that MKS/PAMP and Metalor bought millions of dollars of gold from this and other related companies that are also under investigation.
Rand RefineryNovember, 2013CongoIn November, 2013, TRIAL, a Swiss organization, filed a criminal complaint against Argor-Heraeus S.A. In the complaint, it says that "Until the summer of 2004 the gold was refined by South Africa’s Rand Refinery, which has confirmed that it stopped working with Hussar because it suspected the gold had been acquired illegally." Unfortunately, they did not let other refiners know of their concerns.
Republic Metals Corporation
(a/k/a RMC)
January, 2015ColombiaThe Colombian company Goldex, founded in 2001, was accused by Colombian prosecutors of laundering $800M for armed groups and mafias. Much of the gold was listed as having been bought from people who are either dead or non-existent. Over $1.4B of allegedly illegal gold was exported over 6 years, 97% going to Republic Metals Corporation (RMC) or Metalor Technologies USA. RMC's attorney stated "All sources of precious metals at RMC come from legitimate, conflict free and ethical sources"
Republic Metals Corporation
(a/k/a RMC)
2015ColombiaGold exporter Giraldo y Duque is being investigated for having 'suspicious suppliers', connections to drug traffickers, and corruption. From 2008 to 2012, its biggest customers were Republic Metals Corp. and Metalor Technologies USA. Interestingly, it appears that the Colombian office of NTR Metals used an attorney that Giraldo y Duque used.
Republic Metals Corporation
(a/k/a RMC)
June, 2016EcuadorTwo Ecuadorian companies, Spartan del Ecuador S.A. and Clearprocess Cía. Ltda., were raided with 7 executives arrested and charged with money laundering. The two companies allegedly bought gold from Peruvian gold smugglers. The two companies were Ecuador's principal gold exporters, sending the gold to Republic Metals Corporation (RMC), Kaloti Metals and Logistics (KML), and MVP Imports (for NTR Metals).
ValcambiSeptember, 2015Burkina Faso, TogoPublic Eye (originally Berne Declaration) claims that in 2014 Valcambi imported almost 7 tons of gold that originated in mines in Burkina Faso, where 30%-50% of the labor force is children, and the International Labor Organization says it is among the "worst forms of child labour." The gold is exported through Togo. Miners in many locations are reportedly given alcohol, marijuana, and other drugs to give them the courage to go down the mine shafts. Valcambi denied having received gold from the mines in the report; Berne Declaration still believes they do.