Swiss NGO TRIAL accuses the Multinational Argor

© Karl Mathis/AP/SIPA

The facts of this case are linked to the responsibility of the Swiss company Argor-Heraeus which processed 3 tons of gold ore between 2004 and 2005. It seems that the Company had bought gold ore in Uganda and that the mineral originated from pillaging, by armed groups, in West Democratic Republic of Congo. Until 2004, a South African company had bought this gold ore but the stopped when they discovered that the gold was coming from illicit looting which is considered as war crime because it helps to fund armed groups.  


Between 2004 and 2005, Hussar, a British company based in Jersey, a known tax haven, bought gold coming from a rebel group. This gold had been bought in Uganda and sent to Switzerland to be refined by Argor-Heraeus, one of the biggest smelters in the world. Because of that, in 2006 a UN report pointed the finger at Argor as co-responsible for laundering gold of illicit origin.


The Swiss representation to the UN reacted very sharply against these accusations and avoided the sanctions, stating that the company did not know the origin of the gold was illicit. The diplomats defended the transparency of the company and denied that the company had ever made any payments to rebels groups. However, the review Rue89 along with the NGO TRIAL has reopened the case making public evidence that shows that the company was aware of the criminal origin of the gold.


How it is possible that one of the most reputable smelter companies in the world could be unaware of the gold’s origin? Is lack of knowledge enough to avoid the responsibility? Now, the Swiss Justice system has accepted a criminal lawsuit against Argor and its responsibility for laundering money obtained from this gold ore.


Source : DW Akademie

Go back