Finance Minister AMA Muhith has shrugged off the anomalies raised by the National Board of Revenue about the weight and grade of the gold kept at the Bangladesh Bank's vault.
“The BB has no problem. What has been said about gold is absolutely useless talk,” he told reporters after a meeting with the deputy commissioners at the cabinet division yesterday.
“There were 936 kg gold in the central bank vault, of which 3kg were adulterated. That's okay.”
The BB recorded some of the gold in its vault as low-grade although an investigation by the Customs Intelligence & Investigation Directorate (CIID) found that they were of superior quality.
The issue has drawn criticism and the central bank has come under fire. The CIID probe also revealed that the gold samples tested weigh more than that in the BB record books, raising questions about the central bank's seriousness in its vault management.
The investigation between late 2016 and early 2017 found that the government could lose Tk 1.9 crore for the discrepancy in weight and karat, an indicator of the purity of gold.
Based on a random sampling, the team checked 963.404kg of gold bars, ornaments and gold cut pieces. It found they actually weighed 963.854kg, meaning there was a discrepancy of 0.45kg.
In another case, which examined 3.3kg of gold, it found that there were 46 percent gold in them instead of 80 percent recorded by the BB. The government stands to lose more than Tk 1 crore because of the differences, according to the investigation report by the CIID, a field office of the NBR.
Muhith said the NBR had come up with the report unnecessarily.
On Wednesday, the BB defended itself, saying it mistakenly wrote 80 percent and that it was a “clerical” error.
The central bank yesterday formed a six-member committee headed by Executive Director ANM Abul Kashem to scrutinise the gold stored at its vault and the overall vault management. The committee was constituted following an instruction from the finance minister, said Md Serajul Islam, the newly appointed spokesperson of the BB.