Unraveling the Intricacies of Russia's Gold Trade: A Deep Dive into the UAE Connection (2024)


In the heart of Dubai, executives from the gold industry are converging at the prestigious SO/ hotel for the annual Precious Metals Conference. Against the backdrop of insightful discussions, a shadow looms large — the controversial involvement of Russian gold in global markets, particularly through the United Arab Emirates (UAE). This article delves into the intricate web of Russia's gold trade, exploring how it has become a crucial but covert financial resource for President Putin's war machine.

The Spectre of Russian Gold

Navigating Sanctions: A Risky Game

Despite international sanctions on Russian gold, the UK's National Crime Agency (NCA) has issued a red alert, signaling a surge in Russia's use of gold to circumvent sanctions. The UK government, taking a bold step, has imposed sanctions on specific companies involved in Russia's gold trade, with UAE-based Paloma Precious coming under intense scrutiny.

The UAE's Role in the Gold Shuffle

Melted Down, Masked Origins

The UAE emerges as a pivotal player in the clandestine movement of Russian gold. The metal, shipped from Russia, undergoes a transformation in UAE refineries, where it is melted down to erase its connection to Russia, subsequently making its way into global markets. The NCA's warning echoes the concern that once refined, the origin of the gold becomes indiscernible.

An Alarming Surge in Imports

UN data reveals a staggering 15-fold increase in UAE imports of Russian gold between 2021 and 2022. Russian customs records obtained by Reuters further underscore the magnitude, indicating that the UAE imported 75.7 tonnes of gold from Russia within a year of the Ukraine war, a stark increase from 2021 figures.

The LBMA Conundrum

Rerouting the Gold Trade

The London Bullion Market Association (LBMA), the regulatory authority for the world's gold trade, banned Russian gold following the Ukraine invasion. However, instead of stifling the trade, it shifted course. LBMA-accredited refineries, covering 90% of annual mined gold production, play a crucial role, but the bulk of the UAE's market operates in the less regulated recycled gold sector.

The Emirates Gold Refinery Dilemma

The UAE, home to several major gold refineries, grapples with oversight issues in the recycled gold sector. The LBMA's suspension of Emirates Gold's membership and the UAE's revocation of its Good Delivery List certification highlight concerns about links to Russia and lapses in responsible sourcing and anti-money laundering standards.

Putin's Gold Lifeline

A Strategic Financial Stream

Russia, a major gold producer with an annual output exceeding 300 tons, relies heavily on gold as a critical revenue stream, following oil and gas. The Foreign Office underscores gold's significance in Russia's "barter-style economy," where extractive industries fund both military endeavors and consumer goods purchases.


As the West awakens to the geopolitical implications of Russia's gold trade, the spotlight intensifies on the UAE's pivotal role. This article unravels the complexities, revealing a covert financial lifeline for the Kremlin. The interconnected web of gold trade, sanctions, and geopolitical maneuvering underscores the need for a closer examination of the UAE's role in shaping the global gold landscape.

Unraveling the Intricacies of Russia's Gold Trade: A Deep Dive into the UAE Connection (2024)
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