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2 Jun 2015

Berne Declaration

Swiss gold refinery’s role in pillaged gold goes unpunished

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The Swiss Federal Prosecutor’s Office (FPO) has decided to terminate criminal proceedings opened in October 2013 against the Swiss refinery, Argor-Heraeus SA, denounced by the NGO, TRIAL, for having refined dirty gold originating from the Democratic Republic of Congo...The prosecutor...found that the company had not committed a crime because it had not had any doubts about the provenance of the gold.  But can it be that one of the world’s principal refineries was really that naïve?  Uganda, from where the gold in question was supposed to have come, produces hardly any of the yellow metal, and the country was even well reputed at the time to be serving as a point of transit for pillaged gold from the DRC by armed groups...The impunity enjoyed by Argor is an official invitation to refineries...to ignore information that could lead them to discover problematic issues or to behave as if they had no such information...[I]t is necessary to pass a law requiring companies to know the origin of the products in which they trade, and to ensure that these have note been acquired or produced in violation of human rights...