Skip to main content

All That Glitters is not (Ethiopian) Gold

Gold Bars = Gilt Steel in Ethiopian Vaults

Last year Ethiopia's National Bank shipped out 300 kilograms of gold bars to South Africa. At least that's what they intended to supply, but what South Africa's inspectors discovered was that the bars were gold gilded steel.

In the ensuing months, Ethiopia's parliment has ordered a full inspection of all gold bars in the National Banks holdings and have discovered more fraudulent bars and made at least 19 arrests from within and outside the bank. Those charged ranged from executives at the National Bank, down to accomplices from the supply side. Even chemists from the banks employ were involved.

It looks like the total loss to the NBE rests at about 250 million birr, or about 26.8 million U.S. dollars. One of the suspects had over 60 million birr worth of various currencies stashed at his home when authorities arrived. A few suspects skipped the country and are being sought through international channels.

The investigation has uncovered gilded bars which were supposed to have been purchased as long as five years ago, so this scam has either been going on a long time or older bars are being switched out for gilded steel bars in the banks holdings. Between July and November of last year, the National Bank of Ethiopia bought 612 kilograms of gold, which could provide plenty of fuel for shenanigans.

So just remember, as you consider delving into precious metals investment; all that glitters in not gold. With high prices comes strong temptations. Be careful in your purchases.