Susan Luzzaro 6:30 p.m., July 31
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Smuggled Congo Gold: No Sempra Connection?
Smuggled Gold = 5 Million Dead in War?
A recent 60 Minutes segment on CBS highlighted how revenues from gold smuggled out of the Congo helps to finance the on-going conflict there. According to the CBS report, gold mined by destitute Congolese without power tools or fair pay is taken to the capitol of Uganda, where it is sold to brokers and then exported as if it were being produced in Uganda.
With its source unknown, the golden commodity from Uganda generally makes its way to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. From there, it's off to jewelers around the globe, among other consumers.
The CBS report estimated that about $300 million a year in gold finds its way along this smuggling route from the Congo through Dubai to consumers.
At the current time, the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) is the biggest underwriter of loans and other financing arrangements in Dubai.
RBS is the major partner with Sempra Energy in RBS Sempra Commodities.
According to RBS Sempra Commodities, "In precious metals, we have the depth of knowledge to provide a highly competitive service to major consumers, producers and other market participants.
"RBS Sempra Metals is a founder member of the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) and a member of the London Platinum and Palladium Market (LPPM).
"The precious metals we cover are:
Who says colonialism is dead?
See "60 Minutes' Congo report puts jewelers on hot seat" and RBS Sempra Commodities - Precious Metals
$1215 Gold Close Well Above $881 LBMA 2009 Prediction
In January 2009, the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) predicted that gold would reach an average price of $881. Today's price was $1215.80 at close.
LBMA founder RBS Sempra Commodities has been cited as one of the more profitable components of San Diego-based Sempra Energy's business. RBS Sempra Commodities includes Sempra Energy Trading, RBS Sempra Metals and Sempra Energy Solutions.
In early November, Sempra Energy disclosed that RBS may sell off its stake in the RBS Sempra Commodities venture. By the end of the month, CBS was reporting on Congo conflict gold smuggling through Uganda to Dubai.
According to MarketWatch's Steve Gelsi, "In the second quarter of this year, RBS Sempra Commodities generated $85 million in earnings, accounting for a big chunk of Sempra's roughly $200 million in profit for the period."
See "Sempra says RBS may sell stake in commodities venture"