After restrictions of G7 countries and the European Union in relation to the Russian gold, dozens of little-known companies are engaged in its sale. They supply the metal to the United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong and Turkey, Bloomberg reported citing the company ImportGenius (reported by RBC on May 3).
The company studied six months of data from the Russian Federal Customs Service (FCS). The agency suspended publication of import and export statistics in the spring of 2022, after the war with Ukraine began, “to avoid incorrect estimates”, but in March 2023 it decided to partially resume it, RBC wrote.
In 2021, the largest buyer of Russian gold was the United Kingdom, which bought 266.1 tons (88% of all exports) for $15.4 billion and could re-export it to various countries, including the U.S. and the EU, but now such transactions are prohibited. Because of the sanctions, Russia cannot send gold to the vaults of leading banks, or use the services of Brink’s and Loomis, which occupy a dominant role in the transportation of precious metals. They stopped working with Russian gold after the start of the war in Ukraine. They were replaced by Hong Kong-based VPower Finance Security Ltd. Its representatives claim to transport cash and gold for some of China’s largest banks.
According to ImportGenius, from March to August 2022, the company transported $300 million worth of Russian gold (for comparison, during the first two months of 2022 precious metal worth $1.2 billion was delivered to JPMorgan).
The main destination for Russian gold was the UAE: from March to August they exported $500 million worth of precious metal there. Most buyers are in Dubai.
Trader Paloma Precious DMCC imported gold for $109 million, Al Bahrain Jewellers LLC – $50 million.
The agency notes that working with gold is not the core business of some companies. For example, Actava Trading DMCC, which imported $25 million worth of precious metal in August, is a brokerage firm working in the agricultural markets of grains and oilseeds.
ImportGenius calls Turkey another key destination for Russian gold – about $305 million worth of precious metal passed through Istanbul airport.
Recall that the European Union has banned the purchase of Russian gold as part of the sixth package of sanctions, approved in July 2022. At the same time the G7 countries agreed to a ban on its imports. After the entry into force of the Western embargo, purchases of gold in Russia has increased sharply in China: according to the General Administration of Customs, in July, Beijing imported Russian gold worth $109 million – 8.6 times more than in June.