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Tons of gold imports turn to dust on arrival   

Emirates 24/7 - 15 August, 2010

Several tons of gold imported into the UAE by traders and investors turned out to be fake on closer inspection, resulting in millions of dirhams in losses and high levels of stress to the victims.

Speaking to Emirates 24|7, Mohamad Shakarchi,, Managing Director of Emirates Gold, said: "A lot of people in the UAE who tried to import gold at lower prices or through dubious overseas companies have been cheated.

We have inspected many consignments from African countries, especially Ghana, and found that there is not an ounce of gold in them.

For importing pure dust or other metals with yellow colour, these traders have paid several million dirhams.”

Dubai Customs sources confirmed the incidence of fake gold imports, but did not reply to a questionnaire sent by Emirates 24|7 ten days ago.

“The concerned official is on leave,” said a spokesman.

Emirates Gold has stopped examining gold imported from Africa. "We send specialists to examine a gold consignment only if it is routed through a local company.

We don’t have time to waste because most of these so called gold imports are fake. The traders got greedy. They thought they were getting gold at a discounted rate.”

Mohammed said that at least five tonnes of fake yellow metal is lying with Dubai Customs.

A tonne of gold will cost approximately $ 40 million. Merchants estimated that the minimum loss of fake gold imported by local traders is nothing less than $ 200 million.

He said many clients and Dubai Customs have requested the use of company’s expertise to verify the purity of gold. “The fake gold issue has affected many people. Some of the traders got heart attack, after our inspectors said there is no gold in the tonnes of imports brought from Africa,” Mohammed said.

Recent media reports suggested that several million dollars worth of gold with the Ethiopian Central Bank turned out to be fake. These bars of gold turned out to be gold plated steel bars

African gold merchants claim to be in possession of large quantities of gold dust or gold bars, which they offer to sell at below market prices.

The would-be buyer is made to send money for travel of the seller, for insurance, for shipping and for refinery assays before they would receive anything of any value. Investors are shown samples, which may be original gold.

But when the consignment reaches the port, it will be only mud or sand. Once Dubai Customs tightened controls, fake gold imports started reaching the UAE through other ports.

The seller can walk away at any point with virtually no risk of being caught as all contacts are via anonymous free webmail accounts accessed from Internet cafes and via prepaid mobile phones.

After the real estate and stock market investments became dull, many local investors have turned to commodity, especially gold investment, said the Chief Executive Officer of JRG Commodities, Sajith Kumar PK.
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