Colombia’s chief prosecutor has written to the country’s finance minister to tell him that legitimate gold traders have laundered more than US$3.3 billion in illegal mining profits since 2015.

Prosecutor general Nestor Humberto Martinez is now calling on finance minister Alberto Carrasquilla to take urgent measures to curb gold trade based financial crime.

Illegal activities

According to the prosecutor, Colombia’s second largest gold exporter, CI Metales, allegedly laundered more than US$640 million.

Martinez says the firm is just one of four gold traders that have been taken to court for allegedly laundering illegally mined gold, one of the primary sources of income for illegal armed groups.

These include the Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia, the country’s most powerful paramilitary group that controls most of the country’s drug trade and the Ejército de Liberación Nacional (National Liberation Army), Colombia’s last-standing far-left guerrilla organisation.

Traders arrested

Since 2015 the Prosecutor General’s Office has charged four international gold traders with conducting money laundering operations of 10.6 billion Colombian pesos, the equivalent of US$3.3 billion.

Eleven employees of Colombia’s largest gold trader, CIJ Gutierrez, have been arrested on alleged offences related to the trade-based money laundering of US$757 million in illegal profits.