The United Arab Emirates has become a key trading hub for gold from Russia since Western sanctions disrupted traditional export routes from Russia over Ukraine.
The records, containing details of about 1,000 gold shipments between February 24, 2022 and March 3 this year, reveal more than 100 non-Russian names of companies that have handled gold from Russia since Western markets banned imports from Moscow.
A refiner, jeweler, or investor could be the end buyer, although cargo records frequently simply list the shippers or traders who participated in the transaction.
Here are details of some of the companies that were involved:
According to customs records, a handful of shipments from Russia arrived in London shortly after the start of the Ukrainian war, but before the Western import bans went into effect.
72.4kg of gold worth $4.5m was sent to US bank JPMorgan in March and April 2022, while 97.4kg worth $5.9m was sent to Swedish security firm Loomis during March, May and June.
Customs records of shipments to JPMorgan and some to Loomis identified Societe Generale, a French bank, as the recipient.
A source close to Société Générale said that while the bank could not comment on specific client matters, any transactions of this kind were in settlement of debts before the conflict in Ukraine broke out, and it applied to gold bars made before March 7 of last year, when the London Gold Market Association outlawed Russian gold.
2) UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
Records show that the largest processor of Russian gold exports to the UAE was Temis Luxury Middle East, a subsidiary of a French logistics provider in Dubai.
Temis Luxury, which imported 24.2022 tonnes worth US$3 million between February 15 and March 6, 2023.
It continued with Transguard, part of the Emirates Group – a conglomerate of airlines and hotels owned by the Gulf state’s sovereign wealth fund – with 14.6 tonnes for US$820 million.
Temis Luxury reported full compliance with UAE laws and regulations for freight forwarding activities.
Another 17 non-Russian companies cooperated in the shipment of more than a tonne of rods from Russia to the UAE between 24 February last year and 3 March this year.
The other companies helping ship gold from Russia to the UAE each handled less than 5 tons, in many cases much less.
Open Mineral, a metals trader in Switzerland founded by former traders at global commodities house Glencore, shipped 3 tons of gold from Russia to the United Arab Emirates for $167 million, some before the Swiss sanctions and some afterward.
All of the agreements, after the Swiss sanctions came into force, concerned the Abu Dhabi subsidiary Open Mineral, not the Swiss company.
3) HONG KONG
Almost all gold shipments from Russia to Hong Kong and mainland China were handled by the Chinese logistics company Vpower Finance Security Hong Kong Ltd.
5 other non-Russian companies processed over a tonne of gold imported from Russia. Most of these shipments were associated with Vpower.
No non-Russian company shipped over several tons of gold to Turkey. 8 of these companies were involved in importing over one ton of gold from Russia on March 3, 2023.
At least 2 of the companies listed in the customs records are members of the London Bullion Market Association. Vpower Financial Security is a full member and Transguard is an associate member.
The LBMA has made it plain that members and accredited refiners must abide by its standards, which include abiding by the sanctions imposed by the US, UK, and EU on Russia. It declared that it would look into any claims that LBMA members handled gold from Russia and might suspend or expel any organizations that did.