The World Customs Organization supports an initiative of national customs authorities to enhance existing procedures to rule out international trade of smuggled precious metals. Relevant recommendations resulted from the Second Meeting of the International Working Group on Countering Precious Metals Trafficking held in Brussels at WCO headquarters on October 25-26.

The meeting, co-organized by the Russian Mining and Metallurgical Company “Norilsk Nickel”, the Russian Foreign Ministry, the EastWest Institute and WCO, was attended by customs and law enforcement experts, platinum industry representatives and foreign policy officials from Russia, European Union, South Africa and other regions of the world particularly concerned by existing links between illicit trade of precious metals, organized crime and terrorism financing.

The Working Group acknowledged that enhancing customs controls should be a basic first step in curbing the black market of precious metals.  Within the next few months the Group will develop detailed suggestions on adjusting precious metals nomenclature as reflected in the WCO-managed Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System. The suggestions will help the interested national customs authorities initiate at WCO the necessary amendments to the Harmonized System.

 Providing customs worldwide with proper description of precious metals products is critical in blocking control loopholes used by criminals to safely transfer smuggled goods across borders and use them in money-laundering schemes.  The Working Group will also devise enhanced cost-effective methods of customs control procedures related to precious metals trade as well as industry due diligence in this area supported by  an advanced methodology to track the source of origin of  precious metals and stones. The methodology has been developed by Russian scientists and validated in the beginning of October by an international Peer Review Board including representatives of world leading forensic laboratories.

The Working Group on Precious Metals Trafficking was established within the framework of the G8-endorsed initiative on public-private antiterrorist partnerships in conformity with the Strategy for Partnerships between States and Businesses to Counter Terrorism, which was adopted at the Global Forum for Partnerships between States and Businesses to Counter Terrorism held in November 2006 in Moscow. The EastWest Institute has been involved in this process from the beginnings and considers it as a top priority in its Global Security Program.