So you want to invest in legit gold?

Over the last couple of weeks, headlines have been dominated by the story of a Dubai royal who’s reportedly lost close to Sh400 million to unscrupulous Kenyan dealers.

The scheme started in September last year when Ali Zandi was approached by Kenyan dealers who said they could deliver 4.6 tonnes of gold to the company he was representing.

Ali has paid out millions of shillings, but is yet to see his gold.

Kenya is not a major producer of the mineral. The country has just one large mine in Narok, and numerous artisanal miners.

However, Nairobi is a major conduit for minerals smuggled from the region, especially from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

It appears that fraudsters are taking advantage of Kenya’s planned mineral hub status, and using forged documentation to pass off cheaper metals as gold.

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Gold is a valued investment, especially due to its appreciative nature in the long term and its low risk.

Unfortunately, an increasing number of people are falling victim to fraudsters posing as gold traders.

The Ministry of Petroleum and Mining last week issued a notice, asking people to check with it if a trader is licensed before paying for anything.

So should you want to invest in the gold business, here’s the due diligence you’d need to do first.

What you need

1. Deal with a legal business

You should only transact with businesses licensed by the Ministry of Petroleum and Mining to trade, import, and export gold. The seller must have a dealer’s licence that authorises him or her to trade at a specified premise.

According to the ministry, only two firms have a licence to sell gold in the country.

2. Get the gold authenticated/valued

You can only determine the authenticity, quality and value of gold through tests. The Mining Ministry has a laboratory at Madini House in Nairobi’s Industrial Area where all minerals, mineral samples or consignments are tested for composition in the presence of the client.

At the laboratory, the ministry will conduct an assay of the gold, which is a process of analysing a substance to determine its composition or quality.

3. Ask for an assay certificate/export licence

The ministry issues the results of minerals it has tested in its laboratory through an assay certificate whose details are entered into a register for traceability.

A genuine assay certificate has several features, including a court of arms, the ministry’s logo and number, details of the client and a description of the material presented for testing.

Other details include the date the material was presented for testing, the purity of the gold, a disclaimer indicating that the assay certificate is for the test sample only, the signature of an authorised officer and the official stamp.

Should you receive a request to invest in the mineral export business because the offerer is ‘short of money and in urgent need to deliver minerals’, ask them to produce an export licence.

All mineral exports are authorised by the ministry through export permits detailing the exporter, value, source, composition of the mineral and address of the destination. 

The Kenya Chamber of Mines also warns against agreeing to buy huge quantities of gold at highly discounted prices. The mineral is very marketable and expensive, so think twice when it’s purported to be sold at a cost much lower than average international spot prices.

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