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Massive Gold Smuggling Effort Uncovered

Massive Gold Smuggling Effort Uncovered


One of the greatest gold smuggling efforts in history has been foiled. Libyan authorities arrested the director general of the country’s customs authority and the head of customs at Misrata International Airport, among others, charging them with attempting to traffic nearly $2 billion worth of gold.

The scheme allegedly involved an effort to smuggle a staggering 26 metric tons of gold bullion, about one-quarter of Libya’s entire gold reserves, and more than the entire reserves of many countries, including Ireland and Nigeria. Libyan law permits only the central bank to export gold.

Investigators uncovered some of the gold bars in December 2023 and opened an investigation shortly thereafter. Arrests were made in May in Misrata, a coastal city about 115 miles east of Tripoli.

Ever since rebel forces overthrew the government of Mommar Gaddafi in 2011, Libya has suffered from political instability and chaos with two rival administrations vying for power. It has created an environment rife for corruption.

The Sentry, a U.S.-based non-profit organization that investigates financial crimes in conflict areas, says Libya has been a hub for illicit gold trafficking. “The frailty, opacity, and excessive personalization of state institutions provide Libya’s political entrepreneurs, armed group leaders, and organized crime bosses with numerous ways to steal or misuse public resources,” The Sentry stated in its report, Libya’s Kleptocratic Boom.

Real Time Precious Metals Data Below