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In an exclusive with Mr.Sami Abu Ahmad, Chairman - Sam Precious Metals to The New Jeweller UAE team, he talks elaborately on the Globally acknowledged compliances and state of the art processes initiated by Sam Precious Metals to become one of the most transparent gold and precious metals refining companies in the world. Excerpts:

Sam Precious Metals is one of the most reputed and ethically driven precious metals refining companies in the world. What are the key factors that have led 'Sam Precious Metals' to achieve this leadership position?

The key to SAM Precious Metals’ success lies in having a clear mission to make a long-lasting positive impact in the world and this vision resonates with every member of the organization. The primary goal of SAM is to create sustainable value for clients, investors, people, society, and other stakeholders, while operating in a culture of responsible sourcing, adhering to regulations, and demonstrating excellence in performance, innovation, governance, trust, and respect.

The core values that have led to SAM achieving this leadership position are:

Responsible Business Conduct: We focus on making a positive contribution to economic, environmental and social progress with a view to achieving sustainable development and at the same time commit to conduct due diligence in order to identify, prevent or mitigate and account for how actual and potential adverse impacts are addressed.

Building Trust: We rely on building trust through relationships to ensure long term growth.

Purity: We ensure fineness of our precious metals to meet the highest standards.

Quality: Our gold and silver is tested at qualified testing laboratories and facilities by industry professionals.

Excellence: We believe in the pursuit of excellence in everything that we do.

Cost: Cost effectiveness without compromising on quality.

One of the most distinctive features of SAM is that in every aspect of business, SAM Precious Metals strictly ensures adherence to ethical and moral standards and follows the process of responsible sourcing. SAM has put in place a comprehensive internal system of due diligence, control, and transparency over precious metal supply chain, including traceability. Internal audit and Independent third-party assurances are conducted periodically to verify and ensure that the policy and procedures are consistently implemented, and proper controls have been established. Further, SAM Precious Metals transparently communicates and discloses factually backed information about its supply chain operations internally and externally to regulators, accreditation bodies and other relevant third-party stakeholders.

The senior management of SAM strongly believe that growth and sustainability go hand in hand, and it is a priority for the company to consider wider environmental, social and governance factors and invest into the development of the industry and the wider community. Over the years, SAM has focused to play a positive role in the community and created a culture of responsible business conduct. In order to achieve sustainable relationships, SAM aims to understand the requirements of the various stakeholders by constantly engaging with them and educating them on several aspects related to the business, product and services and compliance matters including supply chain. The company adopts a proactive approach to respond to the needs of the customers in a timely manner and promotes regular communication with them. To improve the overall industry level knowledge, SAM participates in several forums and sponsors subject matter events to educate the wider industry and contributes to the growth of the gold, silver, and precious metal sector in the UAE, across the GCC Region and globally. SAM’s vision includes creating a support system for the Gold and Precious Metals Industry organisations to be compliant with the OECD Due Diligence Guidance on Responsible Supply Chain. Thus, SAM Precious Metals has employed various channels to communicate with these organisations with a view to raising awareness about the OECD guidelines, best international practices and supervisory expectations. SAM has worked with a wide variety of stakeholders, providing support in developing improved regulatory outcomes and a strong Compliance culture within the Gold and Precious Metals Industry. The focus is to prevent shortcomings, identify issues before they become a concern, and lead to more efficient compliance solutions. The top leadership actively supports and understands compliance efforts.

SAM understands that precious metals refining can present major health and safety risks, and thus, the company takes great responsibility for health and safety of the employees and the wider community to safeguard them against both accidents and work-related illnesses. SAM seek to promote the health and wellbeing of the employees and sustain their ability to perform long term. This is done through regular medical checkup of staff, training on an ongoing basis, code of conduct, strong adherence to internal health and safety policies and procedures and ensuring the workplace complies with occupational safety laws and regulations. As a responsible organisation, SAM Precious Metals is always looking for the social and cultural well-being of the society and is involved in various social welfare promotional activities. In Partnership with Dubai Police and Dubai Tourism, SAM sponsored a project aimed at installing QR Code Scan at Gateways to Dubai Gold Souq Mall to simplify and support contactless navigation during the Covid-19 Pandemic. In the past, SAM has undertaken several initiatives including charitable donations to recognized and approved charities such as donation made to the SHEIKH MOHAMMED BIN RASHID CENTRE FOR CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING in the form of laptops and computers for its welfare activities. The company has also organized various food donation camps and distributed Iftar meals during Ramadan.

Further, SAM Precious Metals is highly focused on environmental sustainability. We believe that sustainabledevelopment is not possible without considering the environmental aspects and hence, we are very committed towards environmental wellbeing. Absolutely, no waste goes out of our factories. All the solid waste is sent to ash refineries where it is recycled; we have a recycling plant for water within our factory itself and all gases generated from the process is closely monitored and ensured to be within the limits prescribed by the Dubai municipality. In an effort towards this direction, SAM Precious Metals organized Mangrove Planting Event on September 11, 2022, at Quest for Adventure, Al Zorah Nature Reserve. This activity was a wonder ful way to discover the UAE ecosystem while having fun and learning about climate change, the importance of mangrove trees for the UAE's environment and other environmental issues as a team. SAM members got a chance to make an impact while having a great time as they paddled through the Al Zorah Natural Reserve and planted mangrove seedlings. Through this initiative, SAM made a small contribution towards to a greener, healthier, and more beautiful environment. I believe that one of the most important reasons for SAM’s success is its ‘People’. Successful businesses rely on several different types of assets, such as financial capital, real estate, production equipment and powerful technology, but for SAM its human capital is the single-most important asset for value creation. SAM has focused on building a workplace where employees are respected and provided with an appropriate working environment free from any kind of harassment and discrimination. The company allows employees to voice their opinions at all levels. We focus on creating an inclusive and performance-oriented work culture within the organisation. Nurturing a great diversity in race, nationality, religion, gender, age, language, thought, culture, values, and physical ability, we harness agility and creativity across all business processes. In its endeavour to create a support system for its employees, SAM has developed a financial credit scheme which is a long-term loan extended to the employees without interest on a goodwill basis mainly for welfare purposes such as marriage, building house, and family support. SAM invests into its people to ensure that a challenging environment is provided to them so that they can reach their full potential. A range of training sessions are arranged for the employees which focuses on their professional and personal development, including training on technical subject matter, compliance and regulatory governance, and soft skills. At SAM, every person is like a family member. The company’s vision is to become the market leader in the UAE and globally by achieving strong performance, effective and technology savvy operations and wider community and industry contribution both in terms of technical know-how and social and environmental responsibilities.

Tell us about the cutting edge Technology and the state of the art infrastructure including advanced chemical processes utilized by 'Sam Precious Metals' to refine and evaluate precious metals?

SAM Precious Metals is an ‘Intelligent Refinery’ focused on driving innovation. Our commitment to continuous learning, our world-class facilities, and our extensive expertise in precious metals industry, helps to ensure that innovation remains a priority in such a demanding industry.

SAM Precious Metals specializes in utilising the most advanced chemical processes to refine and evaluate gold, silver and other precious metals. The company’s facilities are equipped with cutting-edge technology and effective and efficient processes for the recovery of precious metals from scrap and other material.

The company continuously invests in the production capabilities, technical capacity and domain knowledge to ensure that the products and services are of the highest quality. The company’s refineries are operated by a team of industry specialists and accomplished professionals. Our company has maintained a great reputation to maintain highest standards of reliability in refining, testing and melting.

SAM Precious Metals is considered as one of the most notable assayers of gold and silver in the Middle East Region. In order to offer the highest calibre of gold and silver products, the Assaying Laboratories and quality control department at the Sam Precious Metals facilities provide an end-to-end service. Gold is tested by the method of combination of the cupellation, ICP machines, advanced X-ray fluorescence spectrometers (XRF), SPARK spectrometers, and other methods to achieve the highest accuracy in testing gold. For silver, SAM Precious Metals uses a combination of the cupellation method, ICP machines, advanced X-ray fluorescence spectrometers (XRF), SPARK spectrometers, and, in addition, titration techniques are applied for testing silver.

Using raw material with as little as 10% gold content or 5% silver content (in some cases even lower), SAM guarantees a 100% recovery of gold, silver and other precious metals. The refining process is carried out at the Company’s state of-the-art facilities and with the team members’ deep technical knowledge. The refineries are operated by a team of specialists and accomplished professionals. The refining process and the end products produced by SAM Precious Metals are of highest international standard. I believe that continuous innovation, from tailored refining methods to the advanced testing capabilities are the backbone of our company’s track record of proven performance in refining precious metals.

Can you explain the globally acclaimed products from 'Sam Precious Metals' such as Gold and Silver casted Bars and Grains and Minted products?

SAM Precious Metals has the capability to produce the highest quality of casted gold and silver bars and grains as well as minted gold and silver bars. Our company offers the following gold and silver casted bars and grains, conform with all the specifications required by the UAEGD:

• 1kg gold bar of minimum 995.0 purity.
• 12.5 kg gold bar of minimum 995 purity.
• Gold grains of minimum 995.0 purity as prescribed in EBC Accreditation Rules.
• 1kg gold bar of minimum 999.9 purity.
• 750 -1100oz silver bar of minimum 999.0 purity.
• 1kg silver bar of minimum 999.0 purity.
• Silver grains of minimum 999.0 purity as prescribed in EBC Accreditation Rules.

Further, SAM Precious Metals offers minted bars ranging from 1 gram to 250 grams with different shapes and trademarks. The company currently has five exclusive trademark, which includes SAM Precious Metals Logo, SAM Precious Metals Horse, SAM Precious Metals Eagle, Bouquet of Hearts, LoveTree and Moon Flower. Apart from these exclusive designs, SAM Precious Metals also produces minted bars featuring Al- Aqsa Mosque, Makkah, and Quranic verses.

Responsible sourcing is one of the key areas of focus within 'Sam Precious Metals’ ethically driven Business policy. Can you elaborate on this?

As we continue to grow, innovate, and establish a culture based on the principles of mutual respect and transparency, and be a transformative force in the precious metals market, it’s our duty to our clients, our stakeholders, the communities we serve, and our organisation to uphold the highest standard of ethical conduct, integrity, and compliance in all that we do.

SAM Precious Metals is committed to map its supply chain in order to identify and assess the risks of contributing to conflict, Money Laundering, Terrorism Financing, or serious Human Rights abuses, associated with gold and precious metals which they produce, distribute, transport, export, sell and/or purchase. SAM ensures that any material, whether recycled or mined products, entering the refinery is from responsible and sustainable sources.

SAM Precious Metals continuously operates, strongly recommends and regularly seeks confirmations from its suppliers to operate in accordance with the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chain of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas, observe RJC Code of Practices and Chain of Custody, the LBMA Responsible Gold Guidance and the EBC Rules for Risk Based Due Diligence in the Gold Supply Chain. Policies are developed in the company for meeting total compliance on statutory regulations concerning human rights, child labour, forced labour, environmental protection, business ethics, and commitment to applying a risk-based approach to the management of supply chain.

‘Responsible Sourcing’ is a fundamental and highly significant principle for SAM Precious Metals. Thus, in order to assess and monitor the risk, SAM Precious Metals conducts thorough due diligence on the gold, silver and precious metals supply chain including both new and existing counterparts, corporate customers and individual members of corporate customers, the location of their operations and the country of origin of the gold, silver and precious metals. A detailed ‘Know Your Customer’ (“KYC”) process has been put in place by the company under the supervision of the in-house Legal and Compliance department to ensure that strict compliance is maintained with all relevant Regulatory requirements and international best practices and standards around Supply Chain Management, Anti Money Laundering/ Counter Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT), and Anti Bribery and Corruption (ABC).

SAM Precious Metals’ Supply Chain Policy outlines the company’s responsibility and commitment for conducting risk based due diligence, screening and monitoring of transactions and governance in place accordingly, in order to achieve a responsible supply chain of minerals. The company has adopted a comprehensive on-going, proactive, and reactive process that is being implemented and maintained by the Compliance Department. The policies and procedures, which covers in-depth all aspects of our internal and external processes towards KYC documentation, country risk assessment, supply chain risk assessment, and reporting, and risk mitigation plan, serves as guidance to all departments involved in the supply chain to successfully comply with the company’s policies. A robust supply chain management system has been developed, which includes centralized information and several departments participating in daily transaction and shipment verification leading to strong monitoring and surveillance of all shipments.

Certification is the bridge between standards and impact – they help you transform your management practices into measurable action. SAM Precious Metals has been a UAE Good Delivery member for Silver since 2021, and in June2022, we received the UAE Good Delivery for Gold accreditation from the Emirates Bullion Committee. We are extremely proud that recently SAM Precious Metals has been re-certified by Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC) for Code of Practices (COP) and become an RJC Chain of Custody (COC) Certified Entity. We are the first refinery in the whole of Middle East to become an RJC Chain of Custody (COC) Certified Entity, which we believe demonstrates our efforts and contributions towards responsible sourcing.

The COP provides a common standard for ethical, social, human rights and environmental practices. COP certification provides a strong system for assuring stakeholders, shareholders, customers and business partners that a company conducts its business responsibly. A chain of custody (CoC) is a documented sequence of custody of material as it moves along the supply chain. The RJC’s CoC Standard defines the requirements for creating a CoC of precious metals that are responsibly produced, processed, and traded through supply chains, and that are third-party assured at every stage. The Chain of Custody certification provides a guarantee of the integrity of our products and materials – allowing us to tell the complete story about how they were sourced, traced, and processed, from mine to retail.

The company’s vision includes creating a support system for the Gold and Precious Metals Industry organisations to be compliant with Responsible Sourcing. Thus, SAM Precious Metals has led various initiatives to raise awareness on Responsible Supply Chain, Human Rights, and AML/CFT. The company has worked with a wide variety of stakeholders, providing support in developing improved regulatory outcomes and a strong Responsible Sourcing culture within the Gold and Precious Metals Industry. The focus is to prevent shortcomings, identify issues before they become a concern, and lead to a more efficient compliance solution.

The Senior Management is committed to drive Sam Precious Metals’ Governance and Compliance standards to an even higher level. This commitment applies to our relationships with customers, partners, suppliers, vendors, employees, competitors, consultants, and investors, and the public at large. It is our Policy to conduct our affairs in accordance with all applicable laws, rules, and regulations of the jurisdictions in which we do business or seek to do business, as well as with industry best practices and standards.

'Sam Precious Metals' has expanded in Egypt and UAE with state of the art refinery units. What does the future look like for 'Sam Precious Metals' in terms of expansion and in brief tell us about the strategy or thought process that goes behind geographical expansion plans?

Over the next 10 years, we plan to establish 13 new refineries, hallmark centres, and minting houses across the world to satisfy growing consumer needs. The key objective of establishing 13 refineries worldwide is to create a strong network that helps connect the gold, silver and precious metals producing countries with the consuming countries. We plan to have footprints of SAM Precious Metals across the world and establish the brand as an international brand. Our main aim is to establish SAM Precious Metals as a household name. The primary focus of SAM Precious Metals is not only to establish itself as a key player in the bullion industry, but also to position as a market leader in developing value added products that have applications in jewellery, role as catalyst in medicine, electronics, automotive, and aerospace industries. By establishing 13 refineries in different parts of the world, we want to ensure that SAM is able to cater to the specific requirements of each market, while operating in compliance with the best international standards and regional regulations.

We are very confident that soon we will achieve all our objectives. We have already expanded in Egypt, and we are now working towards establishing our refinery in Europe and Asia.

Apart from the talented and technically qualified resources that the Company houses, the management team have been key drivers of the business and in a way the “Think Tank”. Can you tell us more about the core team in 'Sam Precious Metals' who have been instrumental in building the company?

The day-to-day operations of SAM Precious Metals are overseen by a group of seasoned executives who come from a wide range of backgrounds having more than 300 years of collective professional experience.

The core management team is led by me, and I bring in more than 22 years of extensive experience in establishing, operating, and managing gold and precious metals refineries in the UAE. Prior to establishing SAM Precious Metals, I had successfully founded and managed two remarkable refinery brands in the UAE. I have also been the Chairman of the Dubai Advisor Group Technical Committee, DMCC from the year 2015 to 2017. I have excelled in the field of precious metals refining by managing, developing, and creating different refining systems, improving the quality of gold and silver products, and standardizing the refining process by working with the regulators to strengthen the process. Under my management, the brands that I have managed achieved the highest accreditations in the precious metals industry such as ISO 9001:2015, ISO 14001:2015, ISO 45001:2018, ISO 10002:2014, CE Directive 2006/21/EC, CSFI, Responsible Jewellery Council Code of Practice, Responsible Jeweller y Council Chain of Custody, Dubai Good Delivery, UAE Good Delivery for Gold, and UAE Good Delivery for Silver.

One of the key members of our management team is Mr.Mohammad Ayyob, our General Manager, who brings 17+years of experience and strong directional skills in negotiation, budgeting, business planning, operation management, and sales. He has also been a member of the Dubai Advisor Group Technical Committee, DMCC and worked as the General Manager of Brinks Global Services in the past. He is an expert in business management, especially in allocating budgeted resources, coordinating business operations, motivating the staff to perform well, identify efficiencies in the processes, managing operational costs, overseeing investment and expansion opportunities and ensuring good customer services.

The operation at SAM Precious Metals is led by Mr.Ahmad Abu Ahmad, the Deputy General Manager. He has gained strong managerial, communication, control, coordination, and customer relationship skills over the past 10+ years of experience in the industry and export area. Mr.Ahmed brings solid operational expertise and skills to manage the end to end production line, implementing the management system that is aligned with the business policies for each department. He also engages with the industry peers to share and collaborate and enhance the wider precious metals industry offering across the region. Mr.Ahmed also leads the community investment initiative and sustainability programme rolled out by SAM Precious Metals.

Further, with our strong focus on responsible business conduct and ethical sourcing, our compliance initiatives is headed by Mr.Faisal Ahmed, who is a qualified Chartered Accountant with 22+ years of global experience specialising in Financial Crime Compliance, Anti-Money Laundering and Auditing. He started his career with 6+ years at KPMG followed by 8+ years at PWC London and gathered 3+ years of industry experience with HSBC Middle East and London office as a Director and Global Head for Client Due Diligence for AML Compliance. Mr.Faisal is currently serving as the Group Compliance Head at SAM Precious Metals. He has led several large scale engagements involving writing AML Global Standards for a multinational bank, AML Sanctions framework and monitoring, development of AML P o l i c i e s & P r o c e d u r e s , K Y C Remediation for UAE Tier 1 banks, Compliance Monitoring and Testing for large banks in Kuwait and Bahrain, setting up CDD Utility and Transaction Monitoring and Sanctions Review team for multinational banks, Defining and Designing AML Framework for DNFBPs in the UAE specialising in the Gold and Precious Metal industry. As a recognised Subject Matter Expert on Finance, AML Compliance and Sanctions, Faisal is an Expert Trainer and a visiting Professor at the London Institute of Banking and Finance and runs specialist courses under the Abu Dhabi Global Markets Academy.

The Client Due Diligence and AML/CFT Compliance Programme at SAM Precious Metals is led by Mr.Sadi Ahmad, the Global Head of Legal and Compliance. He specializes in Regulatory Compliance, Due Diligence and Anti-Money Laundering / Combating Terrorist Financing (AML/CFT) matters. He has over 10 years of experience in providing (AML/CFT) consultancy across various sectors and has led teams in developing Compliance Framework across multiple industries including Banks, Financial Institutions, Healthcare, Food & Beverages, and Oil & Gas Companies. Further, he has specialised in guiding the Designated Non-Financial Businesses and Professions (DNFBPs), especially the Precious Metals Industry, towards compliance with the UAE AML/CFT laws and FATF guidelines. He has focused on enhancing the management systems at SAM Precious Metals and developing stronger due diligence processes. At SAM Precious Metals, he has also implemented various initiatives to ensure responsible business conduct and ethical sourcing, which is in line with the OECD guidelines.

These are just few people who form the ‘Think Tank’ at SAM, however, I believe it is not just the management team, but every member of SAM has played an instrumental role in building the company.