Prominent gold trader arrested

09 January 2017

On Tuesday 3 January, the gold trader Pedro Pérez Miranda, known as ‘Peter Ferrari’, was arrested with six others in a police swoop in La Molina. The arrest warrant was for eleven people, but only seven were found. Though as yet not formally charged, ‘Ferrari’ is still being held by the Dirincri (Dirección de Investigación Criminal) under suspicion of illegal trading. He can be legally held until 11 January.

It is claimed that he cannot adequately account for the origin of all his US$630 million of gold exports over between 2012 and 2015, four years during which total illegal gold exports were estimated at anything between US$1.8 billion and US$3 billion a year. The implication is that he was personally responsible for a far-from-trivial proportion of Peru’s illegal gold exports for those years.

Last time ‘Ferrari’ was arrested, in 1999, it was for money laundering in connection with the drugs trade. He was gaoled, but then cleared of the charge in 2003 and freed from prison with his confiscated assets restored to him. The police have been actively concerned about his trading activities since 2013. ‘Ferrari’ enterprises that have been closed down seemed to have an ability to reappear under a different name and with a different family member in charge, according to La República. More detail of the case can be found at: http://larepublica.pe/impresa/politica/836408-encarcelan-peter-ferrari-por-no-explicar-origen-de-us-630-mllns

If charges stick this time, it will be a significant event, even if only the tip of a golden iceberg. Controlling the legal traders who take in illegal production and disguise its origin is arguably far more important than smashing the machines of peasants in Madre de Dios. Such small producers of course need to be regulated; they are part of an environmentally and socially destructive industry with well-documented human rights abuses. But the instruments need to include work on providing alternative livelihoods and on dealing with the market mechanisms that enable their output to be sold.

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