October 15, 2012

Legal and legitimate

Geraldine Panapasa
Saturday, October 13, 2012

THOUGH they're in the business of buying gold, silver and platinum, foreign company Secured Gold and Silver Buyers Limited (SGB) has assured members of the public their operations are legal and legit.

The comment from SGB chief executive officer Ryan Knott follows claims that the business was operating in Fiji illegally and without proper documentation.

According to local law firm Siwatibau & Sloan, who are acting for SGB on matters regarding their operations in Fiji, the company has a valid foreign investment registration certificate issued from Investment Fiji to operate in the country.

The Consumer Council of Fiji called on consumers earlier to be wary of enticing advertisements from gold buyers and accusing SGB of practising double standards with price variations offered in the Central and Western divisions.

The company widely advertised their business of buying unwanted jewelry — new, old and broken.

"Cash up front and instant appraisals on scrap gold or silver (including sterling silver) were some of the catch points in the glossy advert which also specifies time and locations where locals can trade in their gold and silver items for a couple of dollars.

Speaking from the US, Mr Knott told The Fiji Times though they wanted to capitalise on the price of gold and silver on the global market, they also engaged in an educational process when it came to calibrating and certifying items brought in for cash.

"Most of the items that come to us are mostly unused and broken jewelry — bracelets, necklaces, earrings and rings. We get all kinds of things that people don't wear or are outdated," he said.

"There are some cases where people bring in a vintage piece and they don't realise its value or importance.

"In those circumstances, we help them understand its value and provide them options on how to get it purchased at a higher value.

"It's an educational process and our clients and customers appreciate this as well.

"When they bring in items, we test and grade the items instantly to know its real value of what they've brought in.

"Ninety-nine per cent of the time we purchase (what is brought to us) but there are cases where we look at something that's been passed down and holds a great deal of significance — in which case, we give it back to the owner and ask them to really think about whether they want to part with something so important.

"We've had cases where people sell us something important like an heirloom and later on request it back so we also create that environment of awareness before buying anything."

Mr Knott said the company had stringent measures in place to ensure customers did not bring stolen items in exchange for cash.

He says every customer that brings an item is required to produce a valid identification card to prove they are above the age of 18 and have their thumbprint included in the record list with details of the item they wish to sell.

"Our staff are trained on logical possession analysis meaning they are familiar with measures to take to identify if person who doesn't appear to be the owner of the jewelry," he said.

"This would be followed up by various questions like where did the person get the jewelry from or how long have they had it."

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