By Kharon Staff
November 10, 2023
The U.K.’s National Crime Agency (NCA) issued an alert on Wednesday warning financial institutions that Russia is using gold to evade sanctions.
The agency said that Russia is attempting to launder sanctioned gold and obfuscate its origin so that it can be sold in the United Kingdom and around the world.
According to the NCA, gold is a significant revenue stream for Russia’s war in Ukraine and was worth £12.6 billion to the Russian economy in 2021.
“Sanctions evaders undermine U.K. national security, working against our foreign policy objectives which promote international peace and security, and the rule of law,” said Adrian Searle, Director of the National Economic Crime Centre at the NCA, in a statement.
“This alert will aid efforts, in partnership with the regulated sector, including the banks and high value dealers, to ensure that sanctioned individuals or those who represent them cannot use gold to circumvent U.K. sanctions,” he added.
NCA’s alert came the same day as the U.K. government’s announcement that it was imposing sanctions on 29 individuals and entities for supporting Russia’s gold and oil sectors.
Some of the entities sanctioned include Paloma Precious DMCC in Dubai that channeled over $300 million in gold revenues to Russia. The company is managed by Zimbabwe national Howard Jon Baker, who was also sanctioned Wednesday by the U.K.
Paloma is also managed by one of Baker’s business partners who was not named in the U.K.’s designation. According to corporate records, Anto Joseph majority owns a Hong Kong-registered company that imported more than $28 million dollars worth of raw gold between May 2022 and March 2023 from two sanctioned Russian companies, JSC Krastsvetmet and Polyus Kransonyarsk JSC.
Krastsvetmet was part of the 29 entities sanctioned by the U.K. this week. Polyus Krasnoyarsk JSC, on the other hand, was sanctioned in May by the U.S. Department of State for operating in Russia’s metals and mining sector.
Two of Russia’s largest gold producers, Nord Gold PLC and Highland Gold Mining Limited, were also sanctioned on Wednesday. In 2022, Nord Gold was sanctioned by the U.S. Department of State along with two of its former owners – Nikita Alekseyevich Mordashov and Kirill Alekseyevich Mordashov.
In Wednesday’s designations, the U.K. government also targeted Russia’s oil sector.
The U.K. sanctions come nearly a month after the U.S. announced the first sanctions against two shipping vessels that carried Russian crude oil, violating the $60 per barrel price cap established by the Price Cap Coalition last year.
The price cap was established by the U.S. and other G7 members, the European Union, and Australia to make it harder for Russia to use oil profits to fund its war against Ukraine.