Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Executive Chairman and CEO, DMCC
Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Executive Chairman and CEO of DMCC, is in no mood to play it softly. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Ahmed Bin Sulayem, the DMCC (Dubai Multi Commodities Centre) chief, has taken direct aim at Switzerland for trying to undermine Dubai and the UAE’s gold refinery sector. Some of it is being done with clear malintent, according to him.

“It is plain to see how Switzerland would benefit from sullying the reputation of UAE,” he said in a LinkedIn post, after recent media reports that the European country had been telling its gold refiners not to source gold from Dubai/UAE because of uncertainty over its origin.

At the heart of the issue is contesting claims about whether unaccounted for mined gold is entering Dubai/the UAE and whether this gets routed to other places. In recent years, Dubai and the UAE have tightened up norms that everyone in the industry has to follow about sourcing their gold requirements and how it is done.

What set off the issue?
The Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs recently issued a letter to Swiss refiners to "get strict on UAE gold".

According to Ahmed Bin Sulayem, "Most offensively, the Secretariat highlighted that its primary concern was to protect the gold industry from accepting illicit African gold from entering the market - a statement that is laughable when you learn about the role of Swiss commercial banks in sustaining South Africa's devastating apartheid regime."

Bin Sulayem, who has always been vocal about standing up for what Dubai and the UAE have achieved in bringing on transparency to the gold and metals fared here, also found the Swiss campaign distasteful on multiple fronts.

“In isolating the UAE, you are not only insinuating it remains the only ‘nation’, not refiner or specific business, but sovereign business through which illicit African gold is made available to the Swiss market,” he added in the LinkedIn post.

Not an isolated instance

In recent years, even as Dubai/UAE tightened the requirements on the gold trade, there have been repeated attempts in the London metal markets and, now, in Switzerland, to keep raising doubts about the sourcing of gold into the emirate. (Industry sources say much the same could happen in diamonds too as Dubai aims to be among the numero uno destinations for the global diamond trade.)

Fortunately our well-publicized and internationally recognized 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

- Ahmed Bin Sulayem

Conforming to best practices

Narrowing it down to DMCC’s own requirements, Bin Sulayem said: “DMCC’s Practical Guidance enforces all members to implement the ‘OECD Due Diligence Guidance’, which is mandatory for all ‘Dubai Good Delivery’ and ‘Market Deliverable Brand’ accredited refiners.

“It is perhaps worth noting that several of Switzerland’s largest (gold) refiners, most infamously Metalor Technologies and Argor Heraues, 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.

And “Yes, some refiners, including Metalor Technologies, don’t accept gold from Dubai because of the difficulty in pinpointing its origin…”

As a nation, I am most surprised that Switzerland opted for this nationally targetted approach (against the UAE)

- Ahmed Bin Sulayem