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Entries in Gold (3)

Wednesday
Oct312012

Kazakhstan Bank to Issue Card Made with Real Gold

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(MOSCOW) -- American Express may call one of its cards the Gold Card, but a bank in Kazakhstan is announcing plans to issue an exclusive new bank card it claims is the world’s first made entirely of gold, diamonds and pearls.

Sberbank-Kazakhstan announced plans to issue a limited edition Visa Infinite Exclusive card made with pure gold, 26 diamonds and an inlaid mother of pearl, according to a press release posted on the bank’s website.

The bank also produced a video highlighting the card’s luxurious components.

A spokeswoman for the bank told ABC News it will cost $100,000 to obtain the gold card.  About $65,000 of that goes into minting the card itself (customers will receive a plastic version as well), and the remaining $35,000 will remain in the user’s account.  After the first year it will also carry a $2,000 a year fee.

But for all that, card holders can expect top tier perks, including life and health insurance worth over $250,000, lounge access at airports, concierge service, discounts at hotels and restaurants, car hire, and more.

“Visa Infinite Exclusive is more than a bank card: it opens its doors to the owners of exclusive services and privileges,” Galym Tabyldiev, the head of Visa in Kazakhstan, said in the Sberbank statement.

The bank will also provide cardholders a free iPhone 5 and a Montblanc card case.

The bank plans to issue only 100 gold cards, but the spokeswoman told ABC News they will only be available to residents of Kazakhstan who have an account at the bank.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jan252012

NBA Star's 'Abject Negligence' Cited in Gold Smuggling Scam

Jemal Countess/WireImage(NAIROBI) -- A former U.N. official says former NBA great Dikembe Mutombo showed "abject negligence" in a gold deal that resulted in him getting ripped off for millions of dollars involving a militia leader wanted for war crimes.

A U.N. report said Mutombo, who has cultivated a reputation for honesty and charity, is not guilty of any crimes. Mutombo could not be reached for comment by ABC News, but U.N. investigators said he was unaware that his business deal involved the wanted warlord Bosco Ntaganda.

Mutombo's actions may not have been criminal, says Jason Stearns, the former head of the U.N. group of experts on Congo, but he does call them inexcusable.

"For anybody involved in business in a place like the Congo, before they carry out any deals they need to do due diligence," Stearns says. "He can't really argue he didn't know."

Stearns says the humanitarian is guilty of "abject negligence."

A recent report by a team of U.N. officials investigating the violence and corruption in the Democratic Republic of Congo found that Mutombo, along with a Nigerian-American head of a Houston-based oil company and another investor, lost tens of millions of dollars that ended up in Ntaganda's pockets.

Officials say they believe Mutombo acted as more of an intermediary, rather than knowingly taking part in a criminal enterprise, but say the case highlights how corruption, lack of government oversight and mineral wealth continue to fuel Congo's conflict.

In 2010 Mutombo and three of his Congolese relatives met with Kase Lawal, the Nigerian-American and his partner Carlos St. Mary, the director of a diamond trading company, in New York.

The men worked out a business deal estimated at more than $10 million to acquire and sell more than 1,000 pounds of gold extracted from Congo's vast mines.

But Mutombo never saw the gold. Instead his money ended up in the hands of Ntaganda, a militia leader wanted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court in the Hague.

According to the U.N., Mutombo's business partners knew before the handoff of the gold and the money in the Eastern Congo city of Goma that Ntganda was involved. Instead of pulling out, the report said, they were "reassured" by the warlord's role.

The scandal is a blight on Mutombo's otherwise-squeaky clean reputation. The 7-foot-2 basketball star played for the Houston Rockets and Atlanta Hawks, and was considered a model player during his 12 years on the court, twice receiving the league's Walter Kennedy Citizenship award for his humanitarian work and sportsmanlike conduct.

In 1997 he founded the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation committed to improving the lives of people in Congo. He has built hospitals, schools and even paid for the women's basketball team's trip to play in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

In 2007, President George W. Bush honored Mutombo in his State of the Union speech, calling him the "son of Congo" who never forgot "the duty to share his blessings with others."

Ntaganda, however, is on a U.N. sanctions list, but that hasn't kept him from earning an untold fortune operating businesses across eastern Congo and abroad. He's known to be so ruthless that he's reportedly executed officers within his rebel group who disagree with him.

The ICC indictment alleges Ntaganda, usually referred to using his first name Bosco, commanded a force responsible for arresting, torturing and murdering hundreds of civilians in 2002-2003.

Ntaganda takes advantage of elaborate gold and mineral smuggling schemes that involve interlopers in neighboring Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda. While the trade in coltan, the mineral found in tin used to make cellphones and other electronics, has received so much attention the U.S. Congress passed a law requiring electronic companies to verify the origin of material used, gold continues to trade with almost no oversight at all.

For example, the monitoring group found that there was a difference of more than three tons of gold between the import statistics of the United Arab Emirates, where much of Congo's gold ends up, and the exports claimed by the government of Uganda.

High gold prices and little oversight make trading the commodity a lucrative venture for not only people like Mutombo, wanting to invest in the war-torn country, but also for Congo's brutal military and rebel groups.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jul052011

Treasure Hunt! 5 Stashes of Gold, Silver Waiting to Be Found

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Gold coins, statues studded with diamonds and other precious stones. A trove of artifacts with a value of more than $22 billion.

That's what's facing -- and causing much debate among -- politicians, religious leaders and historians in Kerala, India, where a bounty of riches was recently found in a 16th-century Hindu temple.

Six days of searches ordered by India's Supreme Court unearthed treasures upon treasures donated during hundreds of years by temple patrons.

E. Lee Spence, an underwater archaeologist and well-known treasure hunter in South Carolina, called the find in India "amazing."

He said that an aspiring treasure finder didn't have to head across the world to uncover riches, though.

"There are multibillion-dollar treasures on this side of the world that can be found," Spence said.

With the riches at Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple causing a major stir, ABC News put together a list of five unfound treasures that still have hunters and historians perplexed.

The Amber Room: Dubbed the "Eighth Wonder of the World," the Amber Room was crafted almost entirely of six tons of glowing amber. It was estimated to be worth $150 million in 2008.

Built by Prussian King Frederic the First, it dazzled kings and queens for 300 years and was sent to Russia as a gift in 1716. During World War II, the Nazis moved the German-made room to the Konigsberg Castle where it was put on display.

After the tide of war turned, the Germans boxed it up and it hasn't been seen since. The room was recreated in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Blackbeard's Treasure:
Though artifacts from Blackbeard's flagship -- the Queen Anne's Revenge -- are on display at a North Carolina museum, one won't find any treasure left by man the St. Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum calls "the most notorious pirate who ever sailed the high seas."

According to David Moore, a nautical archaeologist at the North Carolina Maritime Museum, Blackbeard ran his ship aground, giving him and his crew time to remove all valuables. According to lore, Blackbeard responded when asked about where he'd buried his treasure that nobody but he and the devil knew where it was.

Treasure of Lima: In 1820 Spanish leadership and clergy in Lima, Peru, shipped their riches to Mexico under the command of a Capt. William Thompson. The valuables were worth nearly $60 million and included gold statues and jeweled swords.

Thompson killed everyone on the ship and sailed to Cocos Island near Costa Rica and buried the treasure in a cave. He did try to recover the loot but was unsuccessful as were many others.

Montezuma's Treasure:
Aztec emperor Montezuma collected his treasures -- including gold, silver and sculptures -- during years of deadly conquests.

After the emperor was killed by his people, explorer Hernan Cortes and the Conquistadors fled Mexico, dumping the riches they'd stolen from the emperor into the street. Later, with a larger team, they returned and Cortes and his men searched the lands looking for the treasure but found nothing.

Some historians say the treasure remains where the Conquistadors dropped it -- underneath the city.

Yamashita's Gold: No one is absolutely certain that this treasure exists but many books, articles and websites exist on the story.

Legend goes that during World War II, Japan sent its war loot to the Philippines.

The story goes that when the ship arrived in the Philippines, a Japanese general named Tomoyuki Yamashita was assigned to hide the treasure in tunnels. It's said that after the war ended, Japan had the treasure returned but historians have never found credible proof that the stash ever existed.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio