Gold in BB Vault: Discrepancies raise question
12:00 AM, July 20, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:17 AM, July 20, 2018

Gold in BB Vault: Discrepancies raise question

Bangladesh Bank recorded some of the gold in its vault as low-grade ones although an investigation by the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Directorate (CIID) found that they were of superior quality.

The 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, examining 3.3kg of gold, it found there were 46 percent gold in them instead of 80 percent recorded by the BB.

The government stands to lose over Tk 1 crore as a result of this, according to the investigation report by the CIID, which operates under the National Board of Revenue.  

On Wednesday, the BB defended itself, saying it mistakenly wrote 80 percent and that it was a “clerical” error. 

But former BB deputy governor Khondkar Ibrahim Khaled said such “clerical mistakes” was not acceptable, as any custodian of national assets should do the job with utmost seriousness.

“It is a serious negligence on the part of the central bank to measure the confiscated gold wrongly. The issue should be looked into carefully to restore people's confidence in the central bank,” he told The Daily Star yesterday.

Officials concerned should be brought to book if found guilty of negligence, he said.

Asked about the discrepancy, some BB officials involved in the vault management said the measurement may vary slightly from machine to machine.

The central bank measures the purity of gold in traditional way by a designated goldsmith, and not by machine, they said.

The weight and grade will change slightly if measured by a digital equipment, they said.

The customs inspection team should have considered this while preparing the report, said a senior official of the central bank. 

“We bought a precious metal analyser in 2014, but stopped using it after a couple of months as it did not give correct measurement,” the official said.

Customs officials said their team used machines recommended by Bangladesh Jewellers Samity.

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