Bangladesh Bank yesterday refuted the allegation that one of the gold bars kept in its highly secure vault by the customs department was adulterated.
“The purity of the gold [bar] was 40 percent, but it was mistakenly written 80 percent ... It was a clerical error,” BB Executive Director SM Rabiul Hassan told reporters at an emergency briefing at the BB headquarters.
Quoting a report of the National Board of Revenue's Customs Intelligence and Investigation Directorate (CIID),
Bangla daily Prothom Alo ran a report yesterday saying mixed metals were found in the gold bar kept at the vault, and the percentage of gold in it was found at 46 percent instead of 80 percent.
Rabiul reasoned that it happened because of similarity between the number 4 in Bangla and the number 8 in English.
The only designated goldsmith for the BB -- Shokh Jewellers -- made the mistake, he said.
On July 11, the BB governor sent a reply to the NBR chairman, addressing all the errors in the related documents. Yet, the CIID stuck to its investigation report and refused to accept it as a mere error in record keeping, he added.
The CIID report also mentioned that 20 and 24 carats gold was recorded as 18 carats in the BB register.
Talking to this newspaper, Md Shahidul Islam, director general of the CIID, said, "Everything was done in front of the Bangladesh Bank's representatives. There was no outsider. They [BB officials] received the gold as 22 carats and we have those papers.”
He said the probe was carried out by a committee, and everything was done in the presence of BB officials. "If they had disagreed, it would have been reflected in the [CIID] report."
Asked whether the CIID suspects any wrongdoing at the BB, he said, "We have sent our observations."
Rabiul said the vault is highly secure, and there is no scope for anyone to change the metal.
Refuting the CIID report, Rabiul said customs officials measured the quality of gold digitally but the BB had done it manually when it received the metal.
He explained that the record was maintained following the manual measurement method by the designated jeweller.
According to the CIID report, the purity of the 3.30 kg gold bar was recorded at 80 percent but it was found at 46 percent during inspection.
Rabiul explained that the goldsmith mistakenly recorded the purity of the bar at 80 percent instead of 40 percent.
The jeweller acknowledged this error to the central bank, he said.