‘Red Mercury’: Why is Health Ministry Interested In Money Laundering Substance?


By: Foday Manneh

An open bid in 2021 for the procurement of laboratory supplies for the National Public Health Labs under the Ministry of health allegedly provided for purchasing a toxic and harmful substance called “red mercury,” mainly used for money laundering.

“Not only red mercury, but the tender also contains several items of no practical use in any clinical laboratory. Red mercury is toxic and only meant for criminal use,” a National Public Health Laboratory source told TAT.

Red Mercury

The tender document, seen by the Alkamba Times, is said to be World Bank funded. The document named TENDER No. OT/MOH/NPHL/001/21 was issued on September 6, 2021.

The procurement bid consists of three lots: hematology and blood transfusion, microbiology, biochemistry, and TB, with the last lot including Serology, equipment, and histology.

The substance in question has been listed as “Mercury (II) Oxide Red — 99% Min GRG” at item 22 under lot 3 — providing 100 grams equivalent to 10 bottles.

“I was surprised to see it included in the tender, which is said to have passed through a technical procurement committee, Gambia Public Procurement Authority (GPPA), and other ministry committees,” the source added.

Meanwhile, according to research, “RED MERCURY” is a uniquely powerful chemical explosive alleged as a cure for diseases, but this is not scientifically proven.

A biologist who preferred anonymity told TAT that “red mercury is not allowed in thermometers anymore. It is toxic and harmful.”

“In this situation, there must be demand for the substance for reasons best known to officials, but it’s not for health use. Instead, the product is highly sought by criminal syndicates for money laundering, and that alone is bad enough,” he added.

Studies mainly dismiss claims that red mercury has health benefits. Instead, many see it most beneficial as a chemical used for money washing and manufacturing bombs, with advice for consumers to avoid using the substance due to its poisonous status.

About a BBC report in Britain in 2004, three men were arrested and charged with terrorist offenses, again after allegedly trying to buy the “red mercury” substance.

Prosecutors said the three men were looking for ingredients for a “dirty bomb” which could have devastated London. But one of the defendants said he was interested in the liquid to “wash” discolored “money.”

We contacted and reached out to the Ministry for comments, but all efforts proved fruitless.

The price of red mercury has reportedly been on the rise in recent years, with some buyers willing to pay millions for it.


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