Jan 02

On The Trail Of Dubai’s Stolen Gold: A Robbed Client Breaks The Silence, And A Fascinating Detail Emerges:

On Christmas Day, 2015, we told our readers the fascinating tale about the Turkish-Iranian gold smuggling ring – perhaps the biggest and most brazen in history, one which lasted for years, which saw billions in gold transported out of Turkey and into Iran to allow Tehran to circumvent the western financial sanctions using gold as a medium for bater, and which was all made possible thanks to the tiny Emirate of Dubai.

What made this particular instance of gold smuggling especially memorable is that it reached to the very political top in both Turkey, and Iran, and Dubai.

However, while the broad framework of Turkey’s exporting of gold to Iran, initially directly and then via Dubai, had been already in the public domain, Zero Hedge first revealed the man, or rather people, who made it all possible: the Dubai gold “trading” company of Gold.A.E. – is a subsidiary of Gold Holdings Ltd, a company which is owned by SBK Business Holdings and Abu Dhabi’s second in command, the son and avisor to the ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheik Sultan bin khalifah Al Nahyan.

The reason why Gold.A.E. suddenly, and very dramatically, emerged on the global arena is because as we first reported a week ago, the company’s “new” management team admitted that after many months of “inquiries”, it had discovered that not only had the “old” management, led by the now former CEO of Gold A.E., Mohammad Abu Alhaj disappeared, but that all the money – and gold – held at Gold.A.E. which once again was primarily a “trading” front for the Turkish-Dubai-Iran gold smuggling triangle, had been stolen.

Here, for those who missed it the first time, is the letter that Gold.A.E.’s stunned clients received in late December:

Dear Client

A group of minority shareholders of GOLD HOLDING suspected that there were questionable financial transactions being undertaken in Gold AE DMCC (“the Company”). Acting on these suspicions they initiated internal investigations. During the course of the investigations the entire then management team abruptly resigned with no notice. Since the majority shareholders also seemed to be unavailable, the minority shareholders did not accept this resignation. However, these persons went to DMCC, submitted their resignations and managed to get their visas cancelled.

Following this, in august 2015, Mr. Andre Gauthier has been appointed as the manager of the Company so that investigations continued and once completed necessary action can be taken to secure the interests of the clients and shareholders of the company. His appointment took effect from August 9 ,2015 . When he took over, new management realized that he now had access to more information concerning the activities of the previous management and, he realized that there had been substantial withdrawals from the company’s account to the personal accounts of some of the management and the majority shareholders.

Management has also uncovered information with respect to the existence of a bank account with Arab Bank (Switzerland) Ltd in Switzerland in the name of the Company. An attempt has been made to approach this bank but, since none of the current management or minority shareholders are signatories to the account and, due to the stringent Swiss banking laws and regulations regarding confidentiality, no additional information or access has been provided by the bank.

In order to try and secure/recover monies that had been taken out of the accounts of the company, Mr. Gauthier in his capacity as manager has filed various cases as against the recipients of the funds from the Company (Dubai Police ( Bur Dubai Police Station), Case No: 24378). The minority shareholders are doing everything within their powers to support him in his efforts to recover these monies that were withdrawn from Gold AE in questionable circumstances.

DMCC has alleged that some of these activities undertaken by the previous management are in breach of DMCC’s rules and as such they have taken the decision to terminate the license of the Company. We are working closely with DMCC to find a solution and in the meanwhile, we request that you bear with us. In the meanwhile, as a statutory consequence of the license being terminated, the trading platform of the Company has to shut down as of the date of termination of the license which is 24th November 2015.

We trust the forgoing is of assistance.



Or, as we said a week ago, one can summarize the letter above by loosely paraphrasing South Park‘s infamous episode: “aaaannd it’s gone. The gold is all gone.

In a follow up article, “The Mystery Of Dubai’s Vaporized Gold: The Plot Thickens“, we presented readers with the version of events as laid out by the local press, in this case Arabian Business, which tried to assign responsibility for the theft, while in the process exonerating SBK Holdings and its billionaire owner – one of the most important people in the United Arab Amirates – and “washing” their hands of any accountability.

Recall, “the rush to make sure any link between the criminal Gold.AE and its parent, SBK Holdings-owned Gold Holding is immediately severed. A spokesperson for the DIFC said: “We wish to make it clear that although Gold AE is a subsidiary of M/s Gold Holding, which is a DIFC-based holding company, Gold AE and M/s Gold Holding Ltd are two separate entities.”

We wish also to clarify that M/s Gold Holding Ltd is, to our knowledge, not involved in any trading operations, client-facing business affecting clients of Gold AE or the provision of any financial services. Accordingly, it is not regulated by the Dubai Financial Services Authority.”

But was Gold Holding involved in the smuggling of billions in gold out of Turkey and into Iran? And then, back to Mohamed Abu Alhaj, who just a year ago was the widely respected CEO of Gold AE.

When Arabian Business emailed the public inquiries email address for Gold Holding, info@goldholding.com, it received a reply from Mohammad Abdel Khaleq Abu Al Haj, who is a member of Gold AE’s previous management team facing allegations of fraud.

Al Haj insisted in his email that Gold AE’s existing management team were responsible for the alleged fraudulent activity. He also claimed that requests by him for meetings with shareholders to discuss management issues had been refused.

In short: one side saying the other is guilty, the other side responding identically, blaming the first side. Meanwhile the money – and gold – of the clients of this company, perhaps the most important gold holding company in the Persian Gulf, has been stolen.

* * *

So while we continue to dig into the mystery of Dubai’s stolen gold, one which has received absolutely no mention in the western press – in fact the only reason anyone mentioned Dubai in recent months was the dramatic burning of The Address hotel on New Year’s Eve (as covered here), we got the following curious email from a former client of the company; a client whose gold is now all gone.

I’m a client of Gold.ae and live in JLT, just a short distance from where the company had their office in Saba 1 Tower, Cluster E, so I was able to carry out reasonable due diligence (for this country) prior to making any investments in PM’s. I understood that Gold.ae was under the patronage of the Dubai Royal Family and had received several awards in the UAE prior to my personal involvement. Of course there was absolutely nothing to suspect any wrongdoing at this time, in fact the contrary would be true.


I did not trade with the company in the traditional sense of short term buying and selling but invested in Gold and Silver over a period of time with the view of holding for the long term. I was comfortable with this because the PM’s were stored in the vault in Almas Tower (Almas meaning diamond in Arabic) under the guidance of DMCC. This vault was said to be the most secure in the region. My personal investment / loss is in the region of $[redacted].

The first I heard about the recent failing of the company was on the 23rd of December, I did not receive the earlier email dated 16th December. The company made no attempt to contact me prior to that. I have however since been in regular contact with a senior manager, my ‘source’ who now works out of the Gold Holding office in DIFC. He has been very helpful in passing on information and has given me the contact number of Mr. Andre Gauthier, the new CEO. Interestingly, since you published your recent article he has stopped answering his mobile. Maybe you would like to try and speak with him on our behalf, his mobile number is: 00971 50 [redacted]. You may have more luck speaking with him than the clients suffering large losses!

And here is the punchline from our source’s letter:

My source has told me that he now understands that the company knew something was terribly wrong in the March – May period of this year, but it took until December for the company to notify their clients. One has to ask why nothing was done during this timeframe? My source has informed me the main individuals responsible for this are; Mohammed Abu Al Haj, Chairman and founder, Mohammed Ebdah, COO, Mohammed Adnan Younis, Sales Director and Rania, Board member. I’ve been told all involved are Jordanian, however, one has a Canadian passport, one has a US passport. As you know the management team conveniently resigned their positions and DMCC accepted to cancel their visas. Two of them have since set up separate companies in the UAE.

Yes, the story in which the former management team is scapegoated has been previously reported, but the main question, as our source on the ground asks, is why the all important, Gold Holdings – a company embedded into the political oligarchy of Dubai, and thus of the Persian Gulf – waited seven months before alerting clients that all their funds had disappeared. Even MF Global had just a few days to inform its clients it had gone bankrupt and thousands of small commodity traders had been Corzined.

Because as hard as we try to believe that the person whose task was to break into the Turkish market (and then Russian as we will show shortly), all signs point to the holding company as being instrumental in the vaporization of Dubai’s gold.

According to a recent Gold Holdings presentation we have exclusively obtained, Gold Holdings was quite eager to disclose its desire to become the leading and most important gold company in the Persian Gulf, “A new integrated Gold and silver investment vehicle”, one which covered everything from mining, to processing, to refining, to trading, to distribution, to jewelry.

This is what the October 2014 presentation boasted about Gold Holding’s ambitions – nothing short of global gold commerce dominance:

  • To be a premier precious metals investment vehicle, physical.
  • To provide shareholders with high quality, long-term exposure to precious metals.
  • To offer mine owners an attractive alternative to debt or equity.
  • To be a significant and Reliable trader of Gold and Silver

Here is a map showing the tentacles of Gold Holding: note the core presence in Turkey.

GH dubai

The company’s Org Chart is extensive, and clearly discloses the infamous Gold A.E., which curiously is shown as registered for trading not only in Dubai, but in… Shanghai? As for the distribution network, it clearly reaches all key regional money centers, and yet Iran is oddly missing…

GH org chart

Here is another Gold Holding chart showing where according to the old management team the risk lay; not surprisingly the biggest risk – that of corporate fraud and embezzlement – was at the Trading level, where the risk was supposed to be the lowest. Oops.

investment strategy

The final slide we want to bring attention to is the one laying out the Board of Directs of Gold Holding: it lists not only the abovementioned Sheikh Sultan Bin Khalifa Bin Sultan Al Nehayan as the Chairman, but the alleged mastermind behind the theft, Mohammad Abu Alhaj, in his role as board member and CEO of… Gold Holding?

gold holding board_1

Wait, wasn’t Abu Alhaj supposed to be the CEO of Gold.A.E., the subsidiary of Gold Holding? Now this is odd because recall that in the Arabian Business article excerpted above, a spokesperson for the DIFC, or the Dubai International Financial Center (a Federal Financial Free Zone administered by the Government of Dubai), there is no direct link between Gold Holding and Gold AE:

“We wish to make it clear that although Gold AE is a subsidiary of M/s Gold Holding, which is a DIFC-based holding company, Gold AE and M/s Gold Holding Ltd are two separate entities.”

“We wish also to clarify that M/s Gold Holding Ltd is, to our knowledge, not involved in any trading operations, client-facing business affecting clients of Gold AE or the provision of any financial services. Accordingly, it is not regulated by the Dubai Financial Services Authority.”

It appears “your” knowledge was wrong, because unfortunately it does not make any sense that the person in charge of Gold AE was also, according to the company’s own investment roadshow, the CEO of Gold Holding Ltd, and as much as the media and current management wants to make it seem there was an more than arms-length distance between the two in order to blame the theft on the “old management team”, the reality is that as recently as late October 2014, or just a few months before the new management team allegedly discovered the supposed “substantial withdrawals from the company’s account to the personal accounts of some of the management and the majority shareholders.”

In short, the official story in which just one man is scapegoated for the theft of millions in paper and gold currency, makes less and less sense the more we dig.

Which brings us to our conclusion from a week ago:

So, is the former CEO of Gold.AE the criminal mastermind, the person who was responsible for the Turkish gold presence in Dubai, and the one who defrauded Gold.AE… or is he merely the fall guy: after all the new management team, according to Arabian Business, had been at the company since March: how could it take it 9 months to uncover that the company was nothing but a hollow shell, whose assets had been pilfered by the previous management.

And if indeed this crazy story which has every possible James Bond element in it culminates with a case of scapegoating, does that immediately mean that Sheikh Sultan Bin Khalifa, a person at the top of the Gulf’s political and financial oligarchy, is involved. Because if he is, so is the US, as nothing happens in the United Arab Emirates without the United States being aware of it. Finally, if that is the case, it means that not only did the US sanction what has been the world’s biggest gold smuggling ring, but that it implicitly gave Iran its blessing to use barterable Turkish gold in order to bypass sanctions imposed by… the United States!

Less than a week later, and we are getting closer to showing that we may indeed be looking at a case of not only massive corporate fraud, but even more troubling, a case of blame the other guy, when in reality the person accountable is one of the most important – and richest – people in the country, if not the entire middle eastern region.

But before we focus on the dramatic geopolitical implications of this James Bondian story that gets more complex and fascinating the more we dig, we would first like to help the small investors get back their investment, and all the money (and gold) that was stolen from them.

As such we open it up to our readers as well: below we present the latest until now confidential roadshow by Gold Holding, with hopes that someone will be able to spot something “out of place”, in hopes of escalating this case of corporate fraud to the highest possible criminal instance in the UAE… which however will never be high enough if, as we now suspect, it culminates with the second most powerful person in Dubai.

* * *

And finally, while not directly related to the topic of Gold AE’s massive fraud, here is the remainder of the Gold Holding investment presentation: we find it remarkable because after having covered the Turkish market, the Dubai company had its eyes set on a vastly bigger market. Russia.

… and not only that, but it was here where we found what may be the most fascinating detail of today’s article, namely Gold Holding’s (aka Dubai’s) hint that Russian gold no longer has to be denominated in US Dollars for transaction purposes. Instead, it can be denominated in Yuan…. as can Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina and Africa gold transactions, in the process bypassing the SWIFT payment system entirely, and all official traces and records that a gold transaction ever took place!

Gold Holding China gold

Now this is simply stunning because over the past several years one of the biggest questions has been how did China smuggle thousands of tons of gold from around the world without the world, at least officially, noticing.

Well, recall how this entire story first developed: it was all thanks to Dubai acting as a middleman in smuggling billions of dollars worth of gold from Turkey to Iran, without anyone noticing for years. Could it be that maybe this tiny yet ultra rich Emirate has also been instrumental in facilitating the transfer of tens of billions of dollars from the west (mostly the UK and Switzerland) but also every other gold producer, and into China?

Because if so, it would promptly answer virtually every unanswered question about the global shadow, and very much undocumented, physical gold wave: one which takes the gold vaulted in the west, and moves it all the way as far east as Beijing… and all with Dubai’s blessings?


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