Switzerland: Unrefined Gold from Bisha Mining – Eritrea is stashed in Swiss Banks

On 30/08/2017, Swiss News media revealed a secret gold trade activity between Eritrea and Swiss companies. The trade which is reported of being executed from 2011 to 2013 enabled Switzerland to buy 22 tonnes of unrefined gold that costs about 400 million francs. According to the report, it is not known whether the Federal Government of Swiss was aware of the business activity or not.


Source: SFR

The report which was made available to public first by Swiss News website called  www.aargauerzeitung.ch in the early afternoon (13:12 European time) and then a TV channel,  SFR, which broadcasted a 10 minutes short documentary has expressed their concern on possible violation of human rights in the site of production and its possible implication in the business.

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There are about 32 companies actively engaged in gold trades from Switzerland. Since 2013, they have managed to raise their mining share holdings in the National Swiss National Bank of Silver and Gold Portfolio from USD 500 million to USD 1 billion in 2016.  As shown in figure below, these companies have shown a substanitial increase in their wealth shares.

mining shares SNB

Swiss Gold Trade Companies Mining Share in SNB in 2013 and 2016. (Source: click here)

If we take a closer look, the companies which suceeded in this accumulation of huge money might have benefitted from this secretive gold business activity that might allowed them to save huge money.

Eritrea is accused of forced labour by UN for Human Rights Council for using conscripted soldiers to work in Bisha mining center. In addition to low salary, the environment is not secure to safeguard the well being of the workers and the environment. Currently, Bishing Mining Company is sued by its former employee in Canada.

Swiss Banks have a long history of conducting secret business with PFDJ regime. For example, in 2015, information that was leaked about HSBC revelaed that 32 Eritrean individuals with a savings of more than USD 690 million deposited in the years between 1981 to 2006. 

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