DMCC CEO renews call to ban hand-carry gold on flights

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Dubai - Ahmed bin Sulayem said the move would help eradicate illicit gold from the supply chain

By Mazhar Farooqui

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Published: Sat 23 Oct 2021, 11:56 AM

The head of Dubai Multi-Commodities Centre (DMCC) has renewed his call for a global ban on hand-carry gold on flights to combat smuggling.

In a recent LinkedIn post, DMCC's CEO Ahmed bin Sulayem expressed concern over the lackadaisical attitude of stakeholders on the issue.

"Despite raising the issue of hand-carry gold over five years ago, and having hosted two webinars on the matter, I’m deeply concerned to witness the lack of urgency being exhibited on this matter. It's time for a complete global ban on hand-carry gold," said bin Sulayem.

He said implementing the ban wouldn't be difficult for the aviation industry considering its adaptability during Covid-19 pandemic.

"If banning water from flights was possible, this should be very straightforward,” he said.

Terming the ban on hand-carry gold on flights as 'a real priority', bin Sulayem said the move would help eradicate illicit gold from the supply chain.

"Producing nations sorely need this mechanism in place," he said, urging stakeholders to join DMCC's upcoming webinar to once again engage in an open and frank discussion about how to stop the illegitimate gold from entering the global supply chain.

The DMCC head said he would "expose the influencers lobbying to keep hand-carry gold alive" and "force them" to fall in line.

His latest post comes just a day after his scathing attack on Swiss authorities after they wrote to refiners to tighten up audits on gold imports from the UAE.

Bin Sulayem minced no words in lashing out at the Swiss authorities and accused them of hypocrisy in another LinkedIn post.

"Is taking a blanket approach to isolating key trading partners such as the UAE, rather than working with them to address specific, evidence-based issues, a credible way to protect its gold industry?” he said in the blog titled The Indelicate Balance of Ethics Against Profit.

In a subsequent conversation with Khaleej Times, bin Sulayem said the letter by the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs reeked of mischief and a deliberate attempt to tarnish the UAE's reputation.

"I’m not going to let them get away with this. What moral compass does the Swiss secretariat have given its country's morally dubious and irrefutably sordid trading history, which includes using gold to aid the Nazi war effort," bin Sulayem said.

"It is worth noting that several of Switzerland's largest refiners, most infamously Metalor Technologies SA and Argor Heraeus, have both been subject to formal legal proceedings for their respective roles in ecological and human rights disasters in Peru through to financing rebel militias in the Democratic Republic of Congo's civil war," he wrote in the blog on Wednesday.

The DMCC CEO also rubbished fears that gold linked to conflict and money end up in Europe via the key refining hub of Switzerland due to regulatory loopholes in Dubai.

He said that DMCC's own strict rules force members to follow the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s guidelines on sourcing minerals.

"Fortunately, our well-publicised, and internationally recognised levels of transparency, regulation and action against rule-breakers and smugglers mean that we have earned our place as a gold trading centre by having to go the extra mile to compete with historically prominent centres such as London," he said.

In March this year, more than 50 government and private sector stakeholders attended a round table hosted by DMCC to improve regulation for hand-carry gold by air.

Representatives from the aviation, security, commodities, mining, logistics and jewellery industries, as well as government and law enforcement officials provided feedback on the challenges presented by hand-carry gold and possible solutions that would help to raise industry standards on a global scale.

“We cannot wait for the major centres to solve these issues," bin Sulayem had said at that time.

"It’s a global issue in which we are all involved, so we have to take these matters seriously and understand that the task ahead is not impossible. Let it be known that any resistance to positive industry reforms will not come from Dubai or the UAE and that any encounters will be flagged and investigated.”

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