Back in 2020, our gold study highlighted unspeakable relationships between some London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) certified Swiss refiners and Emirati companies. Dubious practices and shipments of conflict-ridden gold were exposed. Today, Global Witness, RAID, Action de Carême, the Society for Threatened Peoples and SWISSAID send a letter to the LBMA identifying 11 key areas where the standard needs to be improved. Despite the ambitious goals of the Responsible Gold Guide, some LBMA-certified refineries continue to be implicated in human rights abuses and source gold from suppliers in conflict zones.
Lack of sanctions for these violations, insufficiently transparent audit reports, and the problem of alignment with OECD guidelines clearly show that LBMA certification is seriously flawed. Clean gold cannot be guaranteed by the current standard. Our research, as well as that of our partner organisations, has shown that banks, watchmakers and jewellers who buy gold from LBMA-certified refineries cannot be sure that it has been produced responsibly. There is therefore an urgent need to improve the standard. The LBMA’s credibility is at stake if it is to remain the benchmark body in the sector. Until there are substantial improvements, LBMA certification should not be recognised as meeting the standards of EU conflict minerals legislation, which come into force in January 2021.