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Swiss Probe Metals Refiner Over Congo Gold

Some 5 million people died before the second war ended in 2003. But much of the fighting and lawlessness has continued in the competition for minerals coming out of volatile eastern Congo, including the gold mines that soldiers and armed group leaders use to gain guns and power.

The 2005 report that Austin worked on mentions the company in connection with the sale of more than $1 million in gold by armed group leaders in eastern Congo. Another report by the U.N. experts on Congo earlier this year says gold is the commodity of choice for armed groups in eastern Congo who tend to export it through Uganda using traders that don't ask questions.

But Argor-Heraeus said in response to TRIAL's complaint that in 2005 it took the "precautionary measure" of cutting ties with a British company that sent it gold shipments and decided not to accept any more materials from Uganda.

The company, which is part of an initiative by private companies and the Swiss government to increase transparency in the gold business, also said it would cooperate with authorities on the probe.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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