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Colombia: Investigation reveals how gold, mined illegally, finds its way to Apple and other companies' products

The New York Times series “The Weekly” released a segment detailing the route of illegal gold from Colombian mines to iPhones and other technology used in people’s daily lives. The news outlet’s correspondents state that violent paramilitary activity has infiltrated each level of the gold mining supply chain through extorting gold prospectors, traders and top mining officials in the country. Companies, such as Apple, who have claimed to purchase gold from viable, legal sources have been connected to the tainted metal via the supply chains in the gold companies they purchase from. Many are linked to C.I.J. Gutierrez, Colombia’s largest gold exporter, which has recently been charged with laundering millions of dollars’ worth of illegal gold.

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Article
30 August 2019

“How Tainted Gold May Have Ended Up in Your Phone"

Author: The New York Times

… The growing demand for gold as a conductive metal used in phones and other electronic products has helped spawn a deadly illegal trade that’s harder to track than other black-market commodities like blood diamonds or drugs… “The Weekly” travels to Colombia, where violent paramilitary groups have infiltrated every level of the supply chain, extorting prospectors, gold traders and some of the country’s top mining officials… Nicholas Casey traces gold tainted by criminal enterprises to see who profits, and who looks the other way. He discovers a route from illegal Colombian mines to the source that Apple and other major companies use to buy metals to make phones and other products many of us carry in our pockets every day…In Apple’s most recent report on the materials it uses, the company says it “commits to use minerals in its products that do not directly or indirectly finance armed conflict or benefit armed groups.” In Colombia, we found evidence that Apple and other companies may get gold from suppliers that help finance armed groups. Apple also says it audits all of its 101 gold suppliers. But our reporting found those audits did not give a full picture of the supply chain…Illegal gold is melted down and mixed with other gold at various points in the supply chain, masking its criminal origins…Gold is a profitable way for armed groups and international gold traders brokering illegal gold to launder money…

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