Swiss pressure against UAE gold imports causes sharp rebuttal from Dubai

There have been some intriguing new developments within the ongoing aggressive confrontation between the United Arab Emirates (UAE) / Dubai gold market and the incumbent  ‘western gold market’ (centred on the LBMA London gold market and the LBMA Swiss gold refineries).

Readers might recall some earlier BullionStar articles on this theme, corresponding to “In Delusional Push, LBMA Threatens to Blacklist Total Gold Buying and selling Centres”, 24 November 2020, and “In Ongoing Saga, Dubai Stands its Floor with the LBMA”, 18 June 2021.

Whereas the newest intrigue entails the financial arm of the Swiss Authorities taking a swipe on the UAE / Dubai gold sector through a warning to the massive Swiss gold refineries, these newest developments are finest seen within the wider context of the current assaults in opposition to Dubai / UAE by the LBMA, and UAE / Dubai’s counter initiatives.

And it’s onerous to not see that in all of this, ‘all roads result in London’, with the LBMA bullion financial institution gold cartel making an attempt to guard it’s market in opposition to the aggressive menace of a surgent UAE / Dubai.

Letter seen by Bloomberg in London

On 15 October 2021, an article appeared on Bloomberg, titled “Switzerland Tells Refiners to Get Strict on UAE Gold”. Written by Bloomberg reporter, Eddie Spence, the article states that the Swiss State Secretariat for Financial Affairs (often known as SECO) wrote to Switzerland’s gold refineries, telling the refineries to extend scrutiny of gold imports from the UAE:

Switzerland has instructed its gold refineries to tighten up audits on imports arriving from the United Arab Emirates to verify illicit African bullion isn’t concerned.

In a letter dated Oct. 11 seen by Bloomberg, the State Secretariat for Financial Affairs stated refineries ought to guarantee adequate steps are taken to establish the true nation of origin for all gold coming from the UAE.

He pointed to the excessive quantity of imports coming from the state, which is ready to account for 10% of Switzerland’s whole in 2021.

Erwin Bollinger, head of the bilateral financial relations division, additionally instructed the refineries that Swiss President Man Parmelin plans to go to the UAE later this month.”

The Bloomberg article additionally included a brief response from UAE Minister of State for International Commerce Affairs, Thani Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, who stated that “we’ve lengthy been cooperative with all worldwide rules and finest practices together with anti-money laundering efforts and unethical sourcing of gold,”

Notice that Switzerland is dwelling to the world’s 4 largest gold refiners, specifically, PAMP, Valcambi, Argor-Heraeus and Metalor, all 4 of that are members of the London Bullion Market Affiliation (LBMA), and all 4 of whose wholesale gold bars are authorised on the present LBMA Good Supply Checklist for gold. Nevertheless, there are not any UAE gold refiners on both the present Good Supply Checklist or the Former good supply listing of the LBMA.  

Curiously, whereas on the floor this may increasingly appear like a Swiss matter, the Bloomberg article ended with a reference to the LBMA, saying that:  

“The London Bullion Market Affiliation final yr threatened to blacklist international locations that didn’t meet its requirements on accountable sourcing, a transfer focused at Dubai

Under we’ll have a look at how a Bloomberg reporter in London might have ‘seen’ a personal letter from SECO to the Swiss gold refineries, however from the article it’s clear that Bloomberg didn’t speak to SECO because it states that “the state secretariat in Bern didn’t reply to requests for remark.”

Entrance to the Swiss Tower within the Jumeirah Lake Towers (JLT), beside the DMCC

Swift Response from Dubai

Not surprisingly, following publication of the Bloomberg article on 15 October, it didn’t take lengthy for a complete response from Dubai / UAE lambasting the Swiss letter, and never surprisingly it was from Ahmed Bin Sulayem, govt chairman and CEO of Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC), who on earlier events has defended the UAE gold trade in opposition to assaults from the LBMA (see right here and right here), and who can also be central to initiatives in rising and internationalising the UAE / Dubai gold market.

As per earlier responses to assaults in opposition to the Dubai gold market, Bin Sulayem printed his response on LinkedIn (printed on 20 October), with a submit introduction as follows:

Additional to a current article printed on @Bloomberg, I’ve felt compelled to answer one of many greatest political missteps taken by Switzerland in recent times, specifically Erwin Bollinger of the State Secretariat for Financial Growth informing its “refiners to get strict on UAE gold”.

Whereas I can’t be certain of the motivation behind the particular person accountable, this kind of unethical concentrating on must stop.”

The submit additionally cc’ed the Swiss President @ParmelinG, Swiss SECO, in addition to the OECD, LBMA, CME Group (COMEX), IMF, Accountable Jewelry Council, World Diamond Council, Human Rights Watch, and International Witness.

Introduction to posting by Ahmed Bin Sulayem, DMCC CEO, 20 October 2021, LinkedIn.

Bin Sulayem begins his rebuttal (posted right here) by highlighting his private connections to Switzerland and the numerous enterprise connections between DMCC and Switzerland, and there’s even a Swiss Tower within the DMCC which is dwelling to the Swiss Enterprise Council and a number of Swiss corporations. He subsequently says he’s “barely pained to put in writing this weblog”, nevertheless he has “felt compelled to name out the Swiss State Secretariat for Financial Affairs, who issued a letter to its “refiners to get strict on UAE gold.”

The DMCC CEO considers the letter ‘an insult’, and apparently suggests that it’s the Swiss gold refiners who might have influenced SECO into sending the letter, a letter which had the target in isolating the UAE.

“Placing the apparent insult to 1 aspect, it seems that Switzerland’s management must ask itself a number of key moral questions.

Firstly, is taking part in the kind of identification politics that permits refiners to foyer politicians to push their agendas the kind of observe they wish to be recognized for?

And is taking a blanket method to isolating key buying and selling companions such because the UAE, relatively than working with them to deal with particular, evidence-based points, a reputable strategy to defend its gold trade?

Bin Sulayem factors out that Dubai / DMCC procedures already adhere to the OECD’s Due Diligence Steerage (within the type of the Dubai Good Supply system for gold and the Market Deliverable Model for accredited refiners), much like how the LBMA’s Accountable Gold Steerage coverage makes LBMA accredited refiners adhere to OECD steerage.

In concentrating on and ‘isolating’ the ‘sovereign nation’ of the UAE, says Bin Sulayem, this Swiss assault is ‘insinuating’ that ‘the OECD pointers to which it adheres aren’t definitely worth the paper they’re printed on.’ And he continues:

“Both you settle for that the OECD is an ordinary value following, through which case you must settle for all gold from accredited refiners or none in any respect.”  

As a world refining centre, it’s plain to see how Switzerland would profit from sullying the fame of the UAE by means of such statements.”

In his come again in opposition to the Swiss letter, the DCMM CEO additionally refers back to the UK and London gold sector, and particularly mentions the LBMA, possible a touch at the place he thinks the newest stress in opposition to the UAE actually emerged from, saying that the UAE has “earned our place as a gold buying and selling centre by having to go the additional mile to compete with traditionally outstanding centres corresponding to London.”

The LBMA, says Bin Sulayem:

”was solely not too long ago addressed by civil society organisations earlier this yr relating to issues of how its “accountable sourcing programme fails to curtail human rights abuse and illicit gold within the provide chain“.

Regardless of such issues, no additional due diligence protocols have been requested from the UK, one in all Switzerland’s key buying and selling companions.

I’m wondering how Britain would have reacted ought to the letter issued by the State Secretariat for Financial Affairs instructed refiners to get strict on “UK Gold”?

Bin Sulayem had already precipitated concern for the LBMA banks earlier this yr when he revealed that the DMCC had begun gathering a grouping of the “worldwide group and trade stakeholders” to debate the worldwide gold market, a transfer which on the time I stated “could possibly be seen because the genesis of a technique to create a counterweight to the LBMA in London.

Ahmed Bin Sulayem’s rebuttal additionally raises the problem of perceived Swiss hypocrisy, given Switzerland’spersonal, very public historical past of unethical conductfrom “utilizing gold to help the Nazi conflict effort regardless of its supposed neutrality, by means of to its fame because the de-facto refuge for the illicit funds of dictators and political crooks.”

“Most offensively”, says Bin Sulayem,

“the [Swiss] Secretariat highlighted that its major concern was to guard the gold trade from accepting illicit African gold from getting into the market, an announcement that is sort of laughable while you study concerning the position of Swiss business banks in sustaining South Africa’s devastating apartheid regime.

In his posting, Bin Sulayem even mentions the current felony case in Switzerland involving former legal professional Common Michael Lauber and his dealing with of an investigation into corruption at soccer organisation FIFA (which is headquartered in Switzerland).

The DMCC head wraps up his submit highlighting the upcoming go to to the UAE by the Swiss President, however not earlier than taking a swipe on the precise issuance of the SECO letter:    

I hope that the person accountable for issuing the State Secretariat for Financial Affairs assertion is conscious that making an attempt to sway world commerce on unethical grounds, significantly if that entails the change of favour, items, or cash, will finally finish with them in the identical court docket [as Lauber]

“It’s maybe lucky timing that Man Parmelin, President of the Swiss Confederation, is intending to go to the UAE within the coming weeks; permitting him the chance to see first-hand how gold is managed all through our provide chains, from refiners to retail, to not point out the prospect to fulfill with our vibrant, DMCC-based group of 342 Swiss corporations.”

Based on a Swiss Authorities press launch, Man Parmelin’s go to to the UAE is definitely scheduled for Friday 29 October, when he’ll:

“be in Dubai within the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to attend the official Swiss Day at Expo 2020. Talks with the UAE authorities are additionally scheduled, whichwill give attention to financial and monetary relations between Switzerland and the UAE.

Bilateral Financial Relations

And who’s Erwin Bollinger? Based on his SECO profile, Erwin Bollinger is Head of Bilateral Financial Relations on the State Secretariat for Financial Affairs (SECO), in Basel, Switzerland. Based on his LinkedIn profile, Bollinger’s specialties are “worldwide commerce negotiations, diplomacy, sanctions and export management coverage”.

Mockingly, this letter from SECO to the Swiss gold refiners seems to have torpedoed bilateral financial relations between the UAE and Switzerland, and will definitely want another person’s “negotiations and diplomacy” to restore the connection.  

Following the above submit from Bin Sulayem, Bloomberg’s Eddie Spence coated Bin Sulayem’s rebuttal in an article, additionally printed 20 October, titled “Dubai Bourse CEO Rebukes Switzerland Over Letter on UAE Gold”, at which level the Swiss SECO had nonetheless not commented, as Spence writes:

Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Financial Affairs, which despatched the letter to refineries this month, didn’t instantly reply to a request for touch upon the DMCC’s response.

So, even after Bin Sulayem’s posting, the Swiss State Secretariat for Financial Affairs didn’t make any feedback concerning the SECO letter of 11 October.

Subsequent to his 20 October article in LinkedIn, Bin Sulayem additionally spoke to the Khaleej Instances, a Dubai day by day newspaper, saying that the Swiss State Secretariat for Financial Affairs’s letter “reeked of mischief and a deliberate try and tarnish the UAE’s fame”, saying:

I’m not going to allow them to get away with this. What ethical compass does the Swiss secretariat have given its nation’s morally doubtful and irrefutably sordid buying and selling historical past, which incorporates utilizing gold to assist the Nazi conflict effort.”

Stirring up a Hornet’s Nest

So why did the Swiss SECO subject a letter to the Swiss gold refiners, that made it’s manner into the general public area and that SECO knew would irk UAE and Dubai a lot?

The Swiss State Secretariat for Financial Affairs (SECO) can’t play dumb because it has full data of the UAE gold that’s being imported into Switzerland. From 1 January 2021, SECO even applied a change to the worldwide customs obligation classification for gold imports into Switzerland in order to distinguish between mined gold and banking gold within the Swiss customs tariff in order to enhance transparency and traceability in gold sourcing.

UAE Ministerial assembly, Abu Dhabi

As not too long ago as 30 September 2021, SECO even printed a rustic profile report of the UAE, stating that “Swiss imports from the UAE are primarily composed of gold (79.1%) and items of jewellery (17.5%).” (Web page 7)

The identical nation profile report additionally careworn how necessary the commerce relationship between Switzerland and UAE is (web page 1):

“The United Arab Emirates is Switzerland’s eleventh largest buying and selling companion and 1st within the area MENA (Center East and North Africa), with merchandise commerce reaching CHF 12.3 billion in 2020.

A whole bunch of Swiss corporations are current within the United Arab Emirates, specifically Dubai, which has develop into a hub of regional and worldwide commerce, a monetary heart and main vacationer vacation spot.

The United Arab Emirates can also be a big overseas investor, through the sovereign fund Abu Dhabi Funding Authority.

Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates have a free commerce settlement (through the European Free Commerce Affiliation EFTA and the Council of Gulf Cooperation GCC), an funding safety settlement and a conference in opposition to double taxation.”

Discuss taking pictures your self within the foot. So why would SECO’s head of Bilateral Financial Relations subject a letter which will get into the general public area through Bloomberg and taints one in all Switzerland’s largest worldwide buying and selling companions? Who’s pulling the strings right here? 

Higher Gold – So long as it’s not from UAE 

Because it seems, the Swiss State Secretariat for Financial Affairs (SECO) is carefully related with the Large 4 Swiss gold refineries by means of a gaggle referred to as the Swiss Higher Gold Affiliation (SBGA) and a collaboration often known as the Swiss Higher Gold Initiative.

In addition to a variety of Swiss luxurious model corporations, the heavyweight members of the Swiss Higher Gold Affiliation (SBGA) are the Swiss gold refineries PAMP, Argor-Heraeus, Valcambi, Metalor (all of that are members of the LBMA), UBS and Julius Bär banks (each of that are LBMA members), PX Group (additionally concerned in gold refining), and Raiffeisen financial institution. See SBGA member listing right here.

The president of the Swiss Higher Gold Affiliation is Olivier Demierre of the MKS PAMP Group (which is the mum or dad firm of the PAMP refinery). See SBGA board of administrators right here. 

Intriguingly, the one full companion of the Swiss Higher Gold Affiliation (SBGA) is the State Secretariat for Financial Affairs (SECO), they usually have been companions since 2013.

The SBGA web site describes the connection thus:

“Arising from a want to enhance the state of affairs of artisanal and small-scale gold miners, the State Secretariat for Financial Affairs (SECO) and the Swiss Higher Gold Affiliation have developed a public-private partnership named the Swiss Higher Gold Initiative for Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining.

Arrange in 2013, the Swiss Higher Gold Initiative grew to become a pioneer answer with the aim of producing transparency, accountability and profitability within the ASM gold sector.”

The truth is, solely final month on 6 September 2021, the State Secretariat for Financial Affairs (SECO) and the Swiss Higher Gold Affiliation (SBGA) collectively launched what they describe because the third section of the Swiss Higher Gold Initiative, in a launch carried out by SECO Director, Marie-Gabrielle Ineichen-Fleisch (who can also be Swiss State Secretary and Director of the International Financial Affairs Directorate), and Olivier Demierre of MKS PAMP.  

Due to this fact, the State Secretariat for Financial Affairs (SECO) is actually in partnership with a corporation, the Swiss Higher Gold Affiliation (SBGA), whose core member embrace the Large 4 Swiss gold refineries and UBS, and all of that are members of the London Bullion Market Affiliation (LBMA).

And on 11 October 2021, SECO has now instructed these identical gold refiners to tighten up audits on gold imports from the UAE, and to get strict on UAE gold.

With such shut connections between SECO and the Swiss refineries, might it even be the case, as DMCC’s Ahmed Bin Sulayem alluded to, that the Swiss refineries influenced SECO to really formally direct these identical refineries to get powerful on UAE gold imports? i.e. a mutual curiosity answer. 

Recall that Nin Sulayem described it as “identification politics that permits refiners to foyer politicians to push their agendas”.

High pane: Swiss Gold Imports from the UAE, tonnes every year, 1982 – 2020. Supply:


Curiously, only a few days earlier than SECO despatched the letter to the Swiss gold refineries on 11 October telling them to get strict on UAE gold, the director of SECO, Marie-Gabrielle Ineichen-Fleisch, attended the OECD’s 2021 Ministerial Council Assembly in Paris between 5-6 October.

Some readers evening recall that within the preliminary LBMA transfer in opposition to the Dubai and UAE gold sector beginning in November 2020, there are various connections between the LBMA, the OECD and the OECD’s Monetary Motion Activity Pressure (FATF). For particulars see the article “In Delusional Push, LBMA Threatens to Blacklist Total Gold Buying and selling Centres”.

Might there be behind the scenes maneuvering the place the LBMA, through the OECD, is directing the Swiss State Secretariat for Financial Affairs (SECO) to get strict on Swiss gold imports from the UAE?

Ahmed bin Sulayem was vocal in ensuring the OECD noticed his rebuttal of the SECO letter, as his following tweet from 20 October highlights, which referenced a variety of OECD twitter accounts.

Publicly, the LBMA can also be on file as being supportive of the partnership between the State Secretariat for Financial Affairs (SECO) and the Swiss Higher Gold Affiliation (SBGA):  

Who despatched Bloomberg the Letter?

As well as, the query should be requested, how did the Bloomberg reporter Eddie Spence, who relies in London, get to see a personal letter written by the Swiss State Secretariat for Financial Affairs (SECO) and despatched solely to the Swiss gold refineries.

Spence himself stated in his 15 October article that “the state secretariat in Bern didn’t reply to requests for remark,” and once more on 20 October in a follow-up article, after DMCC’s Bin Sulayem had responded to the Swiss, that SECO “which despatched the letter to refineries this month, didn’t instantly reply to a request for touch upon the DMCC’s response.”

So, the letter clearly was not despatched by SECO to Bloomberg, as a result of Bloomberg didn’t even speak to the Swiss State Secretariat. Due to this fact, Bloomberg and Eddie Spence should have seen the letter after one of many gold refinery recipients (that are all LBMA members) both despatched it to Bloomberg, or maybe forwarded it to the LBMA or to an LBMA bullion financial institution, which then confirmed the letter to Bloomberg London. As Eddie Spence relies in London, however the Swiss refineries will not be, whereas the LBMA and LBMA bullion banks are, then that in itself factors to the chance of communication inside London.

Which is maybe why Ahmed bin Sulayem in his rebuke of Swiss SECO on 20 October look one other swipe on the LBMA and the London gold cartel, saying that although a gaggle of outstanding NGOs corresponding to International Witness, RAID and SwissAid had raised issues with the LBMA about how gold of it’s LBMA authorised Swiss refineries was being sourced, the Swiss SECO didn’t inform the Swiss refiners to get strict on gold imports from the UK.

UAE Minister of State for International Commerce Affairs, Dr Thani Ahmed Al Zeyoudi

An Emirates Good Supply Gold Normal 

Nevertheless, out of all of this, essentially the most intriguing piece of perception is the timing of the letter from Switzerland’s SECO to the Swiss gold refineries, which bear in mind is dated Monday 11 October.

Why would the Swiss State Secretariat for Financial Affairs abruptly determine to put in writing a letter on 11 October 2021 warning about gold imports from the UAE, when everyone from SECO to the Swiss gold refineries is aware of that gold imports from the UAE are regularly coming into Switzerland month after month, yr after yr, and when Swiss SECO already has gold import and sourcing transparency measures in place?     

Might it have one thing to do with the truth that solely 2 days earlier, on Saturday 9 October, the UAE Bullion Market Committee, consisting of UAE authorities and UAE gold sector members, met in Abu Dhabi, UAE to finalise the launch of an Emirates Normal for Good Supply of Gold?

This new Emirates Good Supply customary, is a UAE federal vast technical customary for wholesale gold bar settlement, very like the LBMA’s London Good Supply Normal and was first mentioned at a UAE governmental assembly on 6 December 2020. 

And this new Emirates Good Supply customary, which is able to compete with the LBMA Good Supply Normal, shall be formally launched on 18 November as a part of the Expo 2020 Dubai, and shall be launched internationally subsequent yr in 2022.

See right here and right here for protection of this Saturday 9 October assembly, which was chaired by UAE Minister of State for International Commerce Affairs, Thani Ahmed Al Zeyoudi.


The timing of the Swiss letter to the LBMA refineries, on Monday 11 October, solely 2 days after the UAE assembly to launch an Emirates Good Supply Normal for Gold is unbelievable to say the least. 

An enormous coincidence, or a shot throughout the bow from these within the gold market who view the UAE as a menace, i.e. the London institution? 

That’s the query that everybody needs to be asking, not least the Swiss President Man Parmelin, who has the unenviable process of turning up in Dubai this Friday 29 October and fascinating in some harm management with the UAE authorities following the SECO “get strict on UAE gold” letter.


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