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Alleged mismatch of gold in BB vault

Muhith sees no reason to raise hue and cry

Rezaul Karim | July 30, 2018 00:00:00

Finance Minister AMA Muhith has said there is no reason to raise a hue and cry over alleged mismatch in gold preserved at the central bank vault.

"I have tried to get information about security system in the Bangladesh Bank (BB) vault. It seems to be quiet good. I think there is nothing to be worried about it," he wrote to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to give her an update on gold scam.

"Some 963 kg gold has been stored in the central bank vault. But standard of discs and rings weighing only three kg is now questionable. So, it is not a big matter," he mentioned in the letter.

Currently, some 37 closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras are working at the central bank. There is six-tier security arraignment round the clock and some 70 policemen are staying there for 24 hours, according to the BB.

"But it seems to me that security awareness is less nationally," the finance minister said in the letter.

It is learnt that no auction of seized gold was held in the country in last 10 years, he said, adding that they are investing the matter.

Most of the gold stored in BB bullion is gold bars. These were smuggled into the country or imported as gold bars.

The problem lies with two pieces of black-coated discs and rings. Some 06 officers examined the seized gold. Goldsmith among the officers is gold expert and touchstone of the goldsmith is enough to examine the gold, the minister said in the letter.

"The central bank doesn't have any problem and that the allegation of gold adulteration in its vault is useless," Mr Muhith said while talking to reporters after the second session of deputy commissioners' (DCs) conference on July 24.

State Minister for Finance MA Mannan said the gold stored in the vault of the Bangladesh Bank (BB) remained as it was.

He, however, said a reported mismatch in the precious metal would be investigated further.

"The matter will be looked into," he told the media after an emergency meeting held at the Bangladesh Secretariat on July 18.

Mr Mannan sat with the officials of the central bank and the National Board of Revenue (NBR).

He said there was a 'clerical mistake' in keeping the tally of gold.

The word 'forty' in Bangla looks similar to 'eighty' in English, thus creating misunderstanding, he noted.

The minister said, "You may rest assured that we are not taking the issue lightly. A big problem can be created from a small one."

"Therefore, we'll further review the matter at our level or by other agencies," he added.

Mr Mannan said: "We feel relieved that the matter is not as big as it was played up on Monday."

He also claimed that the quality of gold could vary if assessed applying different methods.

The two organisations- the central bank and the NBR- may have used different methods in this case.

The entire system, security, the gold quality assessment method and those who worked there would be scrutinised, he mentioned.

The junior minister spoke of taking stern action against anyone if found guilty in this connection.

BB governor Fazle Kabir, Financial Institutions Division senior secretary Eunusur Rahman and Customs Intelligence and Investigation Directorate director general Dr Shahidul Islam were present at the meeting.


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