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Dirty Gold

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Revenant

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I like watching documentaries and docu-series and I’ve become quite a fan of “Dirty Money.” I don’t know how popular it is, but I must not be the only one that likes it because it just got a 2nd Season. It reminds me a lot of “The Smartest Guys in the Room,” about Enron. I’m also a big fan of “The Big Short” and other documentaries on the financial crisis of a decade ago like “Overdose.” In particular with “Dirty Money,” in the first season I was a big fan of the episode on Volkswagen and the one on HSBC. The one about the Canadian Maple Syrup theft was a bit… odd. O.o

One of the episodes of the new season is called “Dirty Gold” and it talks about a more than a decade old practice of using illegal gold mining in Peru and other South American countries to launder illegal drug money smuggled down from the United States. The episode talks about the gold being bought using drug money smuggled out of the United States and then gold is imported into Miami and refined there - I never knew Miami was a hub for gold refiners.

By the end of the episode they start talking about how widespread the issue has been and list a bunch of big-name companies that are under investigation for dealing in illicit gold and that these companies make and sell blanks to… The US Mint!

They mention Elemetal, Engelhard, Johnson Matthey and others as being under investigation for looking the other way and not doing their KYC properly under the Bank Secrecy Act.

At one point in the opener of the episode they flash a shot of some American Gold Eagle coins.

As someone who loves collecting coins and collecting / owning gold and silver it’s crazy and slightly disconcerting to think about. I have my 1/4th oz AGEs for my sons’ birthyears and it’s weird to think that those might have been struck using gold that was mined by some guy in Peru getting $15 a day to run mud in a river while he’s slowly getting mercury poisoning because they’re using mercury to enhance their gold recovery, but I don’t even think these people know what proper PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) looks like.

I think it’s an interesting watch and I’d recommend it to anyone that has a Netflix account - fun way to kill an hour if you’re stuck at home with not much to do.

This is Day 23 of Self-Isolation for us.

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We used to like yo watch American Greed back in 2010-2013.  Sounds similar.

Most of my "2600 years of gold coins" I figure were struck on gold mined by slaves, plundered from defeated enemies, or even gained by melting down south american indian treasures.  doesn't really bug me, and really, adds something to the allure of gold as being the motivation for such dastardly deeds.  nice reminder of how comfortable and peaceful my life is lucky enough to be.  

Gold is gold, I think it is a little much to burden Englehard with knowing where it came from once it is in Miami.  And if the US MINT is so worried about it they should mine it themselves or burden themselves with figuring out where each planchet came from.  

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I do not remember where I read this but I read that the gold planchets for use in striking gold eagles was to be struck from new gold mined in America. The US mint by order of congress and signed by the president has had a long history of being the primary customer of American mining company's.

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1 hour ago, gherrmann44 said:

I do not remember where I read this but I read that the gold planchets for use in striking gold eagles was to be struck from new gold mined in America. The US mint by order of congress and signed by the president has had a long history of being the primary customer of American mining company's.

I don't know if that's the case or not as far as the US Mint buying American gold or maybe just buying from American companies / refiners, but, based on the show, part of this seems to deal with the companies not being truthful or accepting false documents regarding the origins of the gold.

Like I said, I found it to be an interesting show and I thought it made good points and raised good questions. At the end of the day investigations don't prove wrong doing on the part of the companies. 

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4 hours ago, deposito said:

We used to like yo watch American Greed back in 2010-2013.  Sounds similar.

Most of my "2600 years of gold coins" I figure were struck on gold mined by slaves, plundered from defeated enemies, or even gained by melting down south american indian treasures.  doesn't really bug me, and really, adds something to the allure of gold as being the motivation for such dastardly deeds.  nice reminder of how comfortable and peaceful my life is lucky enough to be.  

Gold is gold, I think it is a little much to burden Englehard with knowing where it came from once it is in Miami.  And if the US MINT is so worried about it they should mine it themselves or burden themselves with figuring out where each planchet came from.  

I loved American Greed when I still had cable! Haven't seen it in years though. That was a good show.

I'm sure the 19th century European gold coins I've been picking up have the same problem and you make a good point there. I suppose the gold has almost always been acquired on the backs of the downtrodden, but it certainly doesn't have to be the case in modern times with large miners that operate in politically stable parts of the world like the US and Canada.

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I'm not discounting a little unproven skulduggery by mining companies going on with modern gold coins. However, it is not out of the realm of possibility and in fact likely that 18th and 19th century US gold coins came from stolen gold due to colonialism. Back in the early 19th century when the United States started minting gold coins people would bring foreign coins to a treasury window and exchange them for US gold or gold certificates. The mint would then melt the foreign gold to mint new US gold. Part of this was the impetus for the construction of the New Orleans Mint. Silver and gold from all over the world found it's way to New Orleans. Much of that gold had already been melted and re-minted by the the colonialist nation that minted it. For example some of the gold may have originally been Aztec or Peruvian gold. California, Dahlonega, and Charlotte gold is another story for another day.

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1 hour ago, gherrmann44 said:

However, it is not out of the realm of possibility and in fact likely that 18th and 19th century US gold coins came from stolen gold due to colonialism. Back in the early 19th century when the United States started minting gold coins people would bring foreign coins to a treasury window and exchange them for US gold or gold certificates. The mint would then melt the foreign gold to mint new US gold. Part of this was the impetus for the construction of the New Orleans Mint. Silver and gold from all over the world found it's way to New Orleans. Much of that gold had already been melted and re-minted by the the colonialist nation that minted it. For example some of the gold may have originally been Aztec or Peruvian gold. California, Dahlonega, and Charlotte gold is another story for another day.

That's all true and interesting history, but does it mean that we shouldn't be bothered by questionable practices that are ongoing today?

Edited by Revenant

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Nope. Unfortunately, I am not familiar with the documentary, "Dirty Gold." 

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Reminds me of the heist of a 100kg Canadian ML.  BERLIN (Reuters) - Four men went on trial in January for stealing a 100 kg (220 pound) Canadian “Big Maple Leaf” - once recognized as the biggest gold coin in the world - believed to have been melted down since its theft from Berlin’s Bode Museum in March 2017.  https://www.reuters.com/article/us-germany-trial-coin-theft/four-men-go-on-trial-for-theft-of-giant-gold-coin-from-berlin-museum-idUSKCN1P41KM

 

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I read somewhere years ago that over 90% of the gold mined in the entire history of the world is still in private hands or in government vaults. Ancient gold has been used, stolen, melted down, re-used, looted, stolen again, re- melted, and formed into different objects so many times that most gold objects that do not have certified provenance as "newly mined" probably have some miniscule gold content that was once owned by the Egyptian pharoahs.

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