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Mysterious Russian gold imports intrigue Swiss customs

In May, three tons of gold from Russia were imported into the Alpine country, which has many refineries, to melt ingots, the Bloomberg agency revealed on Tuesday.

Russian gold has thus found its way to Switzerland for the first time since the start of the war in Ukraine, the financial agency said, the mystery remaining for the moment whole as to the name of the importer.

These three tons of gold, worth 194 million Swiss francs (191 million euros), arrived in Switzerland from the United Kingdom but their “indication of origin mentions Russia”, indicates Friday the Federal Office for Customs and Border Security (OFDF) in a press release.

“The OFDF examines the imports concerned with regard to the sanctions in force”, specify the customs, insisting however on the fact that “for legal reasons, no information on the importers of gold can be provided”.

The export of gold to Russia is prohibited by the sanctions regime in place. But the import of gold from Russia to Switzerland is on the other hand “not prohibited by the ordinance establishing measures related to the situation in Ukraine”, explain the customs in the press release.

Since March 7, however, ingots produced by Russian refineries can no longer be traded in Switzerland. “However, ingots produced by Russian refineries before March 7, 2022 can in principle continue to be produced,” they add.

Thursday, the Swiss Association of Manufacturers and Traders of Precious Metals (ASFCMP) said it had been in contact with its members and assured “that none of them is at the origin of these imports”.

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This federation, which brings together the 14 main Swiss companies specializing in the processing and trading of precious metals, has however called on its members to be vigilant, recommending that they act “with the greatest precaution” and to abstain “in the event of doubt”. “Dodgy gold has no place in Switzerland,” she insisted in the statement.

Its 14 members alone represent 90% of the gold melted in Switzerland.

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