Hetq Identifies Armenian Company that Exported $20M of Gold to Turkey; Government Agencies Remain Tightlipped
It took three months, but Hetq finally identified which company exported 353kg of gold, worth US$20.2 million, to Turkey in the first half of 2022.
This $20.2 million, in fact, accounts for practically all goods that Armenia exported to Turkey during the period. The data is sourced from Armenia’s National Statistical Service.
Prior to this, Armenia has never exported any gold to Turkey. This fact alone motivated Hetq to study the issue.
The exporter, Kentron LLC, a branch of Golden Heritage LLC registered in Artsakh, claims the gold’s final destination wasn’t Turkey, but to a Turkish company’s branch in the United Arab Emirates, but has provided no proof to back up its claim.
Armenian government agencies have been reluctant to clarify where the gold winded up. Turkey or the UAE.
According to Armenia’s State Register, Golden Heritage, a company registered in Artsakh, is fully owned by GM Holding LLC, which is 55% owned by Russian businessman Vitaly Grigoryants and 45% by Arsen Mikayelyan. Grigoryants owned 95% of ArmBusinessBank until the end of 2021.
Golden Heritage has been involved in the international gold trade for a long time. In 2019, Hetq revealed that Golden Heritage exported some three tons of semi-finished gold jewelry to Russia under the guise of scrap metal.
Golden Heritage told Hetq that the 2022 gold exported to Turkey was “bank gold” but gave no details about where it came from.
In correspondence with Hetq, Golden Heritage did not deny that it exported gold from Armenia to Turkey this year. However, they assured us the gold was ultimately delivered not to Turkey, but to the United Arab Emirates.
"In response to your inquiry, we inform you that in the first half of 2022, Golden Heritage LLC imported Russian-made factory gold ingots from Russia and exported them to the Istanbul branch of a company located in the United Arab Emirates,” the company responded to Hetq.
Earlier, Armenia’s State Revenue Committee (SRC) reported that only one company exported gold from Armenia to Turkey in the first half of this year. Putting two and two together, the entire batch published in the customs open source, 353 kg of gold, was exported by Golden Heritage company.
Ministry of Economy confirms Golden Heritage imported the gold from Russia
Golden Heritage states that the gold that was exported from Armenia to Turkey and from there, according to them, should have been exported to UAE, was purchased from Russia.
According to the data of the customs service, in the first half of 2022, 443 kg of gold was imported from Russia to Armenia.
In correspondence with Hetq, Armenia’s Ministry of Economy confirmed that the company imported the gold from Russia. There is no need for a license and permission for this because Armenia and Russia are members of the same EAEU Customs Union.
Ministry of Economy, SRC can’t confirm the gold’s final destination
Hetq asked the Ministry of Economy, which has granted a license to Golden Heritage to export precious metals, to clarify which buyer and buyer country were mentioned in the gold export license given to the company.
"The information contains commercial secrets and is not subject to disclosure," the ministry responded.
So, we’re faced with a situation where the exporting company and various government agencies are at odds as to where the gold finally wound up, the UAE or Turkey.
It’s near impossible to check what happened to the gold using international foreign trade databases, because Turkey exports a large amount of gold to the Emirates and it’s impossible to verify whether such shipments include the gold sent from Armenia.
Of note is that if Turkey served as a transit country for the gold, then the UAE should have been listed in the export statistics, not Turkey. Similarly, when goods are exported from Armenia to Russia, using Georgia as a transit country, the country of export is not Georgia, but Russia, because the delivery of the goods terminates in Russia.
Many questions about the gold remain unanswered.
Did the gold stay in Turkey or was it sent to the UAE, and why is the SRC so reluctant to provide any clarification.
In addition, if the gold was destined for the UAE, why was it shipped to Turkey in the first place?
Top photo (from right): Arsen Mikayelyan, Vitaly Grigoryants