The industry association for Switzerland’s gold refiners said its members didn’t import gold from Russia last month, raising questions about who bought the country’s precious metals.
Over 3 tons of gold—worth about $200 million—was shipped from Russia to Switzerland in May, almost all of which was marked as being for refining, according to data from the Swiss Federal Customs Administration. It was the first recorded shipment between the countries since February, when the war in Ukraine began.
Despite Russian gold exports not being sanctioned by Europe, the refining industry’s move to distance itself from the contentious shipments shows the reputation risks of dealing in the nation’s commodities and of being seen to indirectly finance Moscow’s war on Ukraine.
“After contacting its members, the ASFCMP confirms that none of its members are responsible for these imports,” the Swiss Association of Manufacturers and Traders of Precious Metals said in a statement Thursday. “Although Swiss legislation and sanctions do not prohibit the import of Russian gold into Switzerland, the ASFCMP would like to reiterate that dubious gold has no place in Switzerland.”
The statement raises questions about the identity of the end-buyers, as the ASFCMP’s 14 members include all the major refineries in Switzerland which dominate the processing of precious metals globally. Buying them from Russia became taboo within the industry following the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
In March, the London Bullion Market Association quickly removed the country’s own refiners from its accredited list, a move perceived as a de facto ban on bullion from the world’s second biggest producer. Still, the rules don’t prohibit other LBMA-approved refiners from buying metal originating from Russia’s mines.