Metals menace

Someone has actually been arrested and charged with an offence under the provisions of the new Precious Metals and Second Hand Metals Act, 2013. The desperation which had previously accompanied the advice of the Commissioner of Police to the general public to refrain from adorning themselves in gold jewellery was not in the least bit comforting since in addition to the ordinary street snatcher there would be the individuals who enter houses uninvited.

Attacking this menace where the money ultimately comes to rest is perhaps the best solution to the problem. The pervasiveness of the cash-for-gold phenomenon merits a look at the provisions of this new legislation if only to assist unsuspecting members of the public.

A precious metal is defined in section 2 as “an item that contains gold, silver, platinum or any combination thereof”. Second hand metal on the other hand is defined as including “used precious metal, iron, copper, lead or brass that is broken, partly manufactured or defaced”.

Dealers are obviously those persons who engage in commercial transactions relating to the purchase and/or sale of such metals. Dealers are required by section 4 to have a licence and failing to obtain such licence from the magistrate of the district in which they operate exposes them to a fine of $50,000 or 10 years imprisonment in the case of an individual or $50,000.00 in the case of a company.

Understandably, a person who has been convicted of fraud or handling stolen jewellery or second hand metals will have a hard time convincing a magistrate to exercise her discretion under section 6 in his favour.

Such licence is valid for one year and must be presented at Central Police Station to be registered under section 8. Failure to register leads to conviction and the penalties previously cited. The Register is to be kept in both hard copy and electronic format but curiously the information in the register is specified in section 9(5) to be confidential and a police officer who divulges any such information is liable to disciplinary proceedings.

One is unsure of the rationale behind this provision since it hinders the public in verifying whether an individual is a legitimate businessman or not. This is a digression from the norm where the information available for instance at the Corporate Affairs and Intellectual Property Office is available to the public, albeit upon payment of a nominal fee.

There is at least one dealer of which I am aware who was offering to visit the patron at whatever location was desired. However, section 10 requires the licence holder to operate from the business premises specified in the licence. I am unable to see on the face of the act whether a motor vehicle for instance could possibly be registered as a business place.

In any event, the dealer is required to display his licence at all times in those premises next to the words “Licensed Precious Metals Dealer” or “Licensed Second Hand Metals Dealer” in “black letters not less than two inches high on a white background”. There’s specificity for you.

The concept of “cash for gold” died a sudden death with the advent of this act. Section 15 requires payment by cheque and is in keeping with the creation of a paper trail for the prevention of money laundering. However, section 16 allows for the exchange of property for second hand metals.

In concluding the transaction the individual selling the precious or second hand metal to the dealer must provide evidence of identification such as a valid Barbados issued ID, passport or driver’s licence, a photograph and a signed and dated statement to the effect that he or she is the legal owner and lawfully entitled to sell the metal. Presenting false identification renders one liable to the usual $50,000.00 or 10 years imprisonment.

All transactions must, pursuant to section 18, be concluded between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. and with persons over the age of 18 years. Records must be kept for two years either in hard copy or electronic form by the dealer of every single transaction including a description of the transacting party, the description of the item, any accompanying gemstones and the amount paid.

A copy of this record must be submitted to Central police station within 24 hours and the item must be kept for at least 10 working days before it is smelted.

Second hand metals must be sold or purchased in certain minimum quantities but unless you’re in the habit of stealing copper from the utility companies the quantities are large enough that the ordinary man need not be concerned.

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