Exceeding the 1950 dollar an ounce mark, with a spread of less than $ 1 on the stock market, the price of gold has just pulverized its historic high dating from 2011. But behind a flourishing gold market, armed factions are dissolving , money laundering and child labor, these dark scenes silently contributing to the enrichment of large importers like Switzerland and the South American and African mines. In a detailed gold study report titled “Golden Detour”, the NGO Swissaid lifts the veil on all the ambiguity of relations between Switzerland, its importers and intermediaries, some of which are located in the United Arab Emirates.
The fortune of the Swiss gold magnates mined by children?
Are the best jewelers in Switzerland supplied by deposits exploiting children? This question, asked repeatedly for more than half a century, continues to be raised regularly by observers and non-governmental organizations, but without any tangible consequences.
In 2005, the ILO (International Labor Organization) revealed a staggering statistic: at least one million young children aged 5 to 17 worldwide are believed to be involved in the illicit mining of the yellow metal. Despite these frightening figures, never the responsibility of the Swiss actors – stakeholders in more than two-thirds of global gold flows – had not been the subject of any specific questioning.
However, the consensus is shared: for its part, the organization Terre des hommes (TDH) based in Switzerland had also sounded the alarm, pointing out that the gold mines in Burkina Faso employ children for a proportion of 30% of its minors. However, Burkina Faso is one of the main suppliers of gold to Switzerland.
Rather curiously, the Swiss importers, actors in the continuity of the precious metal supply chain, seem to miraculously escape any questioning in the abuses deeply impacting this particular sector, in this part of the world. Legendary Swiss precision, probably.
Swiss gold shines thanks to shadow mafia networks
To shine the spotlight on the dark side of this market, we had to wait for the results of the NGO’s investigation Swissaid through a 2020 study entitled “Golden Detour – The Dark Side of the UAE-Swiss Gold Trade”.
In this case, the report highlights the unhealthy as well as discreet relationship maintained by Valcambi, Switzerland’s leading gold refiner, and Kalioti, a powerful refining company in Dubai (United Arab Emirates). Kalioti is infamous for its policy of compliance and verification, which will be described as “light” when it comes to mining practices in the African mines it operates. As a backdrop, both the appalling conditions in which this mining activity takes place, as much as the exploitation of child labor.
In addition, Swissaid did not fail to underline the outcry caused by all that the ecosystem has of actors, regulators and observers manifested during a summit meeting in December 2019, dealing with this issue. crucial topic.
The report recalls in passing the shocking inaction of the Swiss system, despite the recognition of a flaw in the monitoring of gold flows through the market. In this context, even the publication of new recommendations from the report of the Federal Council did not elicit any particular reactions.
If the situation is uncomfortable and no one has too much interest in lifting the carpet too much to flush out gold dust with a disgusting aftertaste, it is because Switzerland has a central position in the Swiss market. gold. Indeed, the Swiss coffers constitute one of the major pillars of the stability and the solidification of the status of gold as the world’s leading store of value. An ultra-sensitive position, especially in today’s troubled times.
At the same time, the pretender Bitcoin, now recognized as a currency by the Federal Court in Washington, and soon available in US banks is on its way. The creation of Satoshi Nakamoto is indeed marching slowly but surely towards its golden destiny 2.0. And without anyone dying during its extraction.