- Russian gold is heading to obscure buyers and merchants across Hong Kong, Turkey, and the UAE.
- Key Western companies have turned away from Russian bullion amid sanctions.
- More than $500 million in Russian gold was exported to the UAE in the six months through August.
Western buyers have shunned Russian gold since Moscow invaded Ukraine, shifting the bullion market and leaving sellers to turn to buyers across the United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong, and Turkey.
Group of Seven nations and the European Union banned Russian gold imports last year and prevented companies based in those countries from trading it.
And given that Russia alone can’t absorb the $20 billion of gold it mines per year, smaller players have since moved to plug the gaps that were once filled by buyers like JPMorgan and HSBC.
Customs data from ImportGenius cited by Bloomberg show that, in the six months through August, the Russian commodity has been rerouted to nations without the same restrictions as the West.
Merchants in places including the UAE, Hong Kong, and Turkey are still allowed to buy Russian gold, as they don’t fall under any sanctions.
For example, VPower Finance Security in Hong Kong, which moves cash and gold for Chinese banks, has stepped in as a new player, handling more than $300 million of Russian gold from March to August 2022, per Bloomberg.
And the UAE, for its part, saw more than $500 million of the metal hit its shores in the same stretch. Most of those merchants, according to the report, are based in Dubai, such as Paloma Precious DMCC, which imported $109 million.
Turkey, meanwhile, has seen roughly $305 million of Russian gold going through its Istanbul airport in the six month stretch, ImportGenius data show.
It’s likely, however, that Russia’s still struggling to meet pre-war levels of gold exports. JPMorgan alone saw $1.2 billion of Russian gold deliveries in the first two months of 2022 alone before stepping away after the war began.