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Bust gold firm fails to pass on donations

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A business that promised to hand over hundreds of dollars of customer donations to a charity has gone bust — without making a single payment to the non-profit organisation.

Last May Bermuda Gold Exchange, which bought unwanted gold for cash, encouraged customers to donate part of their proceeds to the New Beginnings Education Trust (NBET), set up to raise money for the Mirrors programme. The company said it would also donate some profits from any transactions to the charity.

But although the company received two donations totalling about $650, the Bermuda branch of the firm has now gone bankrupt — before the money could be handed over.

The head of the Bermuda operation claimed that the firm’s assets have been swallowed up by the Cayman-based parent company — leaving him out of pocket with numerous debts to pay off.

One Bermuda Gold Exchange customer told

The Royal Gazette that she took her collection of unused gold jewellery to the Reid Street store last May after learning that she could donate the cash from the sale to NBET.

“I am familiar with the Mirrors programme and the work that NBET was looking to do, so on May 29, 2012, I collected my unused gold jewellery, walked into Bermuda Gold Exchange and donated the entire amount to NBET,” Victoria Williams told

The Royal Gazette.

Ms Williams said in the past 12 months she had repeatedly contacted BGE manager James Gilbert to find out when her donation would be paid to the charity.

“It’s now a year later and, after following up with Mr Gilbert numerous times via e-mail and direct phone call, the funds have not been transferred to the Trust,” Ms Williams said.

“I think this behaviour is shameful. In an economic environment where charities’ funding has been cut and sadly some have had to close their doors, it is incumbent on us as a community to support these types of initiatives. I am not holding out a lot of hope that these funds will see their way to NBET but maybe Mr Gilbert will remember the promise he made in 2012.”

Last night Mr Gilbert confirmed that the company had been unable to make any payments to the charity — but that he will do everything he can to ensure that the money is eventually paid.

He explained that he had planned to wait until he had received at least $2,000 in donated gold before getting it melted down, selling it on and handing over a cheque from the sale.

But when he did sell the gold last December, the funds were paid into the bank account of the parent company in Cayman, which he cannot access.

“New Beginnings was a charity that we were trying to help,” Mr Gilbert who is now out of work said. “But because the donations were initially of such low volume, I was hanging on to it until we could accumulate enough to get a better rate for melting it down — that would have given the charity more money.

“We had about $650 in contributed gold, but by the time I had that melted down last December, the company was in trouble and my partners in Cayman were cutting me out.”

NBET founder Kerry Judd said she had been in contact recently with Mr Gilbert and was saddened and dismayed by the outcome.

“I thoroughly appreciated Mr Gilbert’s offer to step up and help but that doesn’t take away from the fact that someone who came forward to make a donation is out of pocket,” Ms Judd said.

“Not only is it embarrassing for NBET, it is also a risk to our reputation. At the end of the day this is just a very good lesson that any non-profit organisation needs to be aware of.”

Bust: Bermuda Gold Exchange
James Gilbert: Admitted that Bermuda Gold Exchange customers’ donations did not reach charity

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Published May 07, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated May 06, 2013 at 11:29 pm)

Bust gold firm fails to pass on donations

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