Argor-Heraeus refutes DRC gold laundering claims

Swiss gold refiner Argor-Heraeus has strongly refuted accusations by the Geneva-based non-governmental organisation TRIAL that it knowingly refined gold taken from DR Congo during an armed conflict in 2004 and 2005.

"To its great surprise, Argor-Heraeus SA has been informed that NGO TRIAL of Geneva is pressing chargers for alleged money laundering in connection with the refining of gold allegedly originating from the DRC during the period for 2004 to 2005," the company said in a statement. "Argor-Heraeus firmly refuses any such accusation since an in-depth investigation by the UNO, the SECO and FINMA resulted that Argor-Heraeus has been cleared of all above mentioned allegations."

TRAIL, an acronym for Track Impunity Always, said in a statement it had submitted a criminal complaint to Switzerland's Federal Prosecutor and that it had information suggesting that the company may have refined almost three tons of gold looted from DR Congo in 2004 and 2005, which was smuggled to Uganda and then refined in Switzerland by Argor-Heraeus.

According to TRIAL, the refinery knew or should have assumed that the gold resulted from pillage, a war crime.

The Swiss federal prosecutor's office said on Monday that it had decided to initiate proceedings against the refinery for suspected money laundering in "connection with a war crime and complicity in war crimes."

"Given the secrecy of the investigation and function, we are not able to provide more information for now," it said.

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