Gold from Toronto Heist “is in Dubai or India”

Police investigating the theft of CAN$20m (US$14.5m) of gold from Toronto Pearson Airport last April – the biggest heist of its kind in Canada – say much of it ended up in Dubai or India.

The perpetrators used a fraudulent airway bill (carrier’s document of instruction) for shipment of seafood to dupe Air Canada Cargo warehouse staff, then used a forklift truck to empty a container packed with 6,600 gold bars, as well as foreign currency.

“We believe a large portion has gone overseas to markets that are flush with gold,” said lead investigator Det. Sgt. Mike Mavity, as reported by CBC News, Canada’s national broadcaster.

“That would be Dubai, or India, where you can take gold with serial numbers on it and they will still honour it and melt it down. And we believe that happened very shortly after the incident.”

Police have arrested nine men in connection with the case and are searching for three others involved in what is believed to have been an “inside job”.

They say the Project 24 Karat investigation has cost CAN$5.3m so far (US$3.9m) and could end up costing CAN$ 10m (US$7.3m).

Source: Idex

Passenger Caught with $84,000 of Gold Inside Body

A passenger at an airport in India was caught with almost 1kg (2.2lbs) of gold, most of it concealed inside their body.

They were intercepted at Bir Tikendrajit International Airport, Imphal, in the northeastern state of Manipur, after a specific tip-off.

Customs officers recovered one packet of gold, in a paste form, within the airport complex, and found two more hidden inside the passenger’s body after a thorough examination.

The gold packets were shaped like eggs, wrapped in rubber sheaths and were found hidden inside the passenger’s rectum.

The passenger has not been identified, and Customs did not say where they’d traveled from.

The total weight of the gold was 972.28 grams, with a market value of Rs 70,31,601 ($84,000).

Source: IDEX

China’s Gold Economy: Consumer desire for gold increases, desire for diamonds decreases

In the first half of this year, China consumed nearly 555 tons of gold, up more than 16 percent year-on-year. The trend has been described as a domestic gold craze. But diamonds seem to have lost their attraction, as the market size in China declined to 11.4 billion U.S. dollars in 2022, 2.5 billion dollars less than in 2021. Xu Hua has more from the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, China’s biggest distribution center for wholesale jewelry.

XU HUA Shenzhen Shuibei Jewelry Market “We’re at Shenzhen’s Shuibei Jewelry Market, the biggest wholesale market of its kind in China. The market has been crowded with consumers from all over the country for months, as international gold prices continue to rise. Let’s go and see what the best seller is here.”

The hustle and bustle of the Shuibei Jewelry Market since the beginning of 2023 marked a strong comeback from last year. With attractive designs, diverse styles and low prices, dozens of deals can be reached in seconds.

YU WANLING Shenzhen Resident “Shuibei is well-known for its gold sales. The quality gold is more reassuring than other places.”

ZHENG CE Shenzhen Resident “We are about to get married. We prefer to buy some gold rather than diamonds for inheritance or for wearing.”

China’s domestic consumption of gold jewelry reached 555 tons in the first half of 2023. Among the gold consumption, the purchase of gold bars jumped 30 percent year-on-year to 146 tons, while that of gold jewelry reached 368 tons, up almost 15 percent from the same period last year.

HAO RUNSONG General Manager, Lidu Gold “In 2023, our gold sales increased by 20-30 percent compared with last year.”

By contrast, the doorways of neighboring diamond stores looked relatively lonely, as the precious gems lost some significant value over the last few months.

LIU JINGLI Manager, Yishidai Jewelry “The retail transaction volume of diamond inlays is relatively low, and the wholesale sales of our diamond inlays is also declining.”

ZHAO LI Director, The Gold Plaza Operation Center “The sales of diamond jewelry have declined slightly, partly due to falling prices, fewer marriages, the impact of cultivated diamonds, and changing buyer behaviour.”

For daily social needs, some consumers looked to art jewelry as an alternative to diamond jewelry.

HUANG WEIJUN Brand Director, Shenzhen REIEN Jewelry “Our sales of art jewelry in the first half of this year have increased by about 300 percent over the whole of last year.”

Some economists say the booming gold sales are a direct reflection of a gloomy economic outlook.

WU HAIFENG Executive Director, Shenzhen Institute of Data Economy “When people feel uncertainty about the future, especially on the economy, especially about the income growth, people will think to change their investments platform from a variety of the financial products to hard currencies such as gold, such as real estate.”

However, Wu says that the real estate market hasn’t looked good since the beginning of the last year, so Chinese consumers and investors have been looking at other products. Wu added proper stimulative policies are still needed to ensure a healthy market and economic rebound. Xu Hua, CGTN, Shenzhen, Guangdong Province.

US Sanctions Gold, Diamond Companies Aiding Wagner Group

The US Department of the Treasury has issued sanctions against four companies and an individual in the gold and diamond industries that have provided funding to Russian military organization Wagner Group.

The Central African Republic (CAR), United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Russia-based entities have “engaged in illicit gold dealings” to help Wagner “sustain and expand” its army in Ukraine and Africa, the government office said Tuesday.

“Treasury’s sanctions disrupt key actors in the Wagner Group’s financial network and international structure,” explained Brian Nelson, under secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence. “The Wagner Group funds its brutal operations in part by exploiting natural resources in countries like CAR and Mali.”

The targets include:

Midas Ressources, which holds the rights to the Ndassima gold mine in CAR, and Diamville, a gold and diamond purchasing company that participated in a gold scheme and the shipment of diamonds mined in the African country to help fund Wagner activities.
Dubai-based industrial goods distributor Industrial Resources General Trading, which provided support to Wagner leader Yevgeniy Prigozhin by purchasing the diamonds sold by Diamville in exchange for cash to support the military group.
Limited Liability Company DM (OOO DM), a Russia-based firm accused of participating in a gold-selling scheme with Diamville.
Andrey Ivanov, an executive in the Wagner Group who facilitated weapons deals and mining operations with the government of Mali.
The announcement follows Wagner’s attempted rebellion against the Russian government last week. Prigozhin called off the mutiny and went into exile in Belarus.

The sanctions are the latest round against the Wagner Group, which the US has labeled a “significant transnational criminal organization.” Australia, Canada, Japan, the UK and the European Union have also sanctioned the military entity.


Portuguese UN peacekeepers accused of helping to smuggle diamonds, gold and drugs out of Central African Republic

The Central African Republic has hosted UN peacekeepers for years

A “handful” of Portuguese peacekeepers may have been involved in smuggling gold, diamonds and drugs out of the Central African Republic (CAR).

The soldiers, part of the United Nations peacekeeping force in the country, are alleged to have been part of a crime ring that used military planes to transport the illicit goods to Portugal, the office of the Portuguese Armed Forces Chief of Staff said in a statement.

More than 300 inspectors raided nearly 100 properties in Portugal as part of the investigation, police said on Monday.

Officers said the “criminal network” had international links and 10 people have been arrested so far – some of them ex-military. They are likely to appear in court this week.

The Portuguese military said officials became aware of the alleged crime ring in December 2019, along with suspicions that some of its soldiers may have been used as couriers.

More stringent checks have been put in place for soldiers returning to Portugal after peacekeeping missions.

Supporters of a presidential candidate in CAR ride on a flatbed lorry, in an incident unrelated to the crash
At least 78 people killed as truck flips in the Central African Republic In a statement, military officials said: “The armed forces totally repudiate these behaviors which contradict the values ​​of the military institution.”

Portugal’s defence minister Joao Gomes Cravinho said: “Everything suggests that these were activities undertaken on their own initiative by a handful of soldiers and not something systemic.”

Hundreds of Portuguese soldiers have been deployed in the CAR over the past few years, as the country struggles with violence that worsened after a coalition of rebels seized power in 2013.

It is rich in gold and diamonds but it is also one of the poorest countries in the world.

Source: Skynews