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14 Nov 2013

James G. Stewart, University of British Colombia in New York Times

Punish Companies That Pillage

Pillage is a war crime. And yet, when it comes to natural resources, companies doing business in war zones have largely been free to plunder with impunity — until now. This month, Swiss authorities opened an investigation against one of the world’s leading gold refiners, Argor-Heraeus, for pillaging gold from the Democratic Republic of Congo. In the middle of the last decade, according to a criminal complaint…the company refined three tons of gold that had been bought by companies based in Britain and the Channel Islands. The companies had acquired the gold from a Ugandan company, which had bought the gold from Congolese rebels, according to the complaint…During World War II, many businesses pillaged natural resources from occupied Europe to feed Hitler’s war machine…But since that era, there has been a deafening and puzzling silence.