On Friday, 1 November 2013, TRIAL filed a criminal complaint (dénonciation pénale) with the Swiss Federal Prosecutor’s Office against Argor-Heraeus SA, a Swiss gold refiner based in Mendrisio (Tessin, Switzerland).
Based on the evidence collected by the United Nations Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Kathi Lynn Austin (former UN expert), TRIAL suspects Argor-Heraeus SA of being guilty of the crime of gold pillaged during an armed conflict.
From 2004-2005, Argor-Heraeus SA refined almost three tonnes of gold ore pillaged from the Democratic Republic of the Congo by an illegal armed group, the FNI (Front des Nationalistes et Intégrationnistes) whose activities were financed by the illicit sale and traffic of this gold ore.
The main argument put forward in the criminal complaint is that Argor-Heraus SA knew or should have presumed that the raw material it was processing was looted, which is a war crime. For this reason, TRIAL asked Swiss prosecuting authorities to establish if the refining company had committed or not a criminal offence.
On 10 March 2015, the Public Prosecutor of the Swiss Confederation decided otherwise. After a 15-months investigation, he closed the proceedings without possibilities for appealing what NGOs consider a dubious decision.
New developments will follow…