Former refinery workers face charges for trading US$1bn of illegally obtained gold in the US market

Prosecutors have filed a complaint against three former refinery workers who allegedly traded illegally mined gold worth at least US$1 billion in the US market.

The prosecution alleges that illegally mined gold from South America was traded in a vast money-laundering scheme from 2013 to 2016.

Drug traffickers

The complaint says the three ex-employees of NTR Metals Miami and accomplices from several South American countries purchased illegally mined gold from Peruvian mines controlled by drug traffickers.

One of the accused and the apparent ringleader, Juan Pablo Granda, operated the scheme alongside his job, which involved going to South America to buy gold for his employer. Dallas-based NTR Metals has not been charged in the case.

Gold advantages

“In general, gold is a good medium for money laundering because it has universal and readily ascertainable value and is difficult to trace,” according to the complaint.

It says that in 2014, after a Peruvian government crackdown on illegally mined gold, drug traffickers who owned illegal mines began smuggling the gold into Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, and other Latin American countries, and then exported it to Miami refineries.

Granda, who holds an Ecuadorian passport, travelled widely across Latin America in the course of his employment.

Laundering typologies

Typically, illegally gained gold may be laundered through wholesale or retail jewelleries, pawnbrokers or, as it appears to be in this case, a refinery.

Laundering the proceeds of crime using gold may also have taken place. Typically, the illegally mined metal would pass through an intermediary such as the refinery into wholesale or retail jewellers in the US, where a large retail jewellery market offers ample opportunities to easily place large amounts of money or gold.

Categories: Trade Based Financial crimes News

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