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Hong Kong, UAE Firms Hit With Sanctions for Russian Gold Deals

The US Treasury said on Wednesday that VPower Finance Security and other firms in Hong Kong and the UAE were punished for transporting gold produced by Russia’s biggest gold miner Polyus


Polyus, Russia's largest gold miner, was hit by US sanctions in 2023. Now several firms involved in the group's dealings have also been hit (Reuters).

 

Firms in Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates have been hit with US sanctions for deals with Russia’s biggest gold miner.

The US Treasury Department said on Wednesday that VPower Finance Security and other firms in Hong Kong and the UAE were punished for transporting gold produced by Polyus.

Washington’s latest sanctions list aims at raise pressure on Moscow for its war against Ukraine and aims to disrupt its access to support from third countries. The Treasury said foreign firms aiding Russia’s war economy now “face greater risk of sanctions.”

 

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Wednesday’s list included a transnational network “laundering gold for a designated Russian gold producer,” it said in a statement.

Polyus, which is the world’s number four gold miner in terms of output, was sanctioned by Washington in 2023.

According to the statement, a Polyus employee and his Hong Kong-based associate engaged in a scheme “whereby payments from the sale of Russian-origin gold were converted into fiat currency and cryptocurrencies through numerous UAE and Hong Kong-based front companies.”

The scheme, the Treasury said, used Hong Kong-based firms Holden International Trading Ltd and Taube Precious HK Ltd to route payments and UAE-based Red Coast Metals Trading DMCC to obfuscate payments from the sale of the Russian-origin gold.

Additionally, the scheme involved Hong Kong-based VPower Finance Security Hong Kong Ltd to transport the Russian gold, it added.

Polyus declined to comment. VPower did not reply to a Reuters’ request for comment. Holden, Taube and Red Coast could not be reached for comment.

Russia is the world’s second-largest gold miner after China. It produced 321.8 tonnes in 2023, or 8.8% of global output from mines, according to consultancy Metals Focus.

Moscow stopped disclosing its export and import data in detail shortly after it attacked Ukraine in 2022, but part of its supplies are still visible through the mirror data of countries’ buying Russian products.

According to data provider Trade Data Monitor (TDM), Hong Kong was the largest importer of gold from Russia as of 2023. The data does not track the UAE’s gold imports from Russia.

The Treasury statement said it is also targeting multiple transnational networks laundering Russian gold, plus others supporting Russia’s production of drones, and procuring critical items such as materials for Russia’s chemical and biological weapons programme, plus anti-drone equipment, machine tools, industrial machinery, and microelectronics.

It also took further steps to limit Russia’s future revenue from liquefied natural gas, it said.

 

  • Reuters with additional input and editing by Jim Pollard

 

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Jim Pollard

Jim Pollard is an Australian journalist based in Thailand since 1999. He worked for News Ltd papers in Sydney, Perth, London and Melbourne before travelling through SE Asia in the late 90s. He was a senior editor at The Nation for 17+ years.

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