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Where is Guinea's gold? A London laundering case may hold clues

Section: Daily Dispatches

By Eddie Spence, Jonathan Browning, and Katarina Hoije
Bloomberg News
Friday, May 13, 2022

The government of Guinea wants to know what happened to three tons of its gold. The answer may lie in London.

In March, Guinean authorities arrested a former head of the central bank and charged him with embezzlement after the custodian of the gold, Belgian refiner Affinor BVBA, said it was unable to return it

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The arrest of Lounceny Nabe cast a new light on a previously unreported court ruling in London that showed the refiner, which held and sold the gold, had already faced scrutiny by UK police in a money-laundering case. 

Millions of euros the firm said it made from trading Guinea's gold was transferred to bank accounts around the world, some of which could be linked back to the refiner. It prompted prosecutors to say there was "overwhelming evidence that the money was unlawfully obtained from international money laundering." And it led to the seizure last year of 34 million euros ($35.2 million) in the country's biggest forfeiture of crime proceeds.

Now worry is building in Guinea about the safety of its gold. And a murky deal stretching across three continents is raising questions about money laundering in London's bullion market, where trillions of dollars in precious metals trade each year. ...

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