Swiss imports of Russian gold rise to most since April 2020

Gold bars. (Reference image from Max Pixel).

Switzerland’s imports of Russian gold surged to the highest in more than two years, a sign that more old bullion from the country may be being remelted to make it easier to sell.

About 5.7 tons — worth $324 million — of Russian metal was imported by the refining hub in August, according to data from the Swiss Federal Customs Administration. That’s the most since April 2020.

The shipment was Russian metal that arrived from the UK, the customs administration said in a statement on Tuesday. Swiss customs data show the last place the precious metal was refined, rather than where it was last shipped from.

Russia’s gold has become taboo since the country invaded Ukraine earlier in the year. New Russian gold has been sanctioned by the US, EU and Switzerland, but bars exported from the country before Aug 4. are not subject to the import ban, the customs authority said Tuesday.

Some investors with old Russian gold bars may wish to remelt them at Swiss refineries to make them easier to sell. Though the country’s bullion minted before the war can still be traded in most major centers, including London and Zurich, there’s a stigma around it. Russia — the world’s second-biggest gold miner globally — was previously a major supplier of new bullion to the UK market.

China is still importing Russian gold, though the quantities remain relatively low. The country bought 0.3 tons of the precious metal from Russia in August, a small fraction of its total monthly imports of 182 tons.

(By Eddie Spence)

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