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Report: BB vault’s gold not adulterated

  • Published at 06:13 pm December 22nd, 2018
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File photo of gold bars Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

In the BB committee report, a gold coin and ring was accidentally registered as 80% instead of 40%

An internal investigation committee formed by the Bangladesh Bank (BB) found the allegations of gold stored in the central bank’s vault being adulterated as untrue.

The report was submitted to the chairman of National Board of Revenue (NBR) Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan by the central bank’s governor Fazle Kabir on November 28, according to the central bank’s spokesperson and executive director Serajul Islam, reported Bangla Tribune. 

In the report, he said that the objections raised by the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Directorate (CIID) have been addressed and detailed rectification measures have been included in it.

The “high profile” six-member investigation committee was formed on July 22 in wake of a Prothom Alo report on July 17, which said around 3.3kg of apparent gold coins and rings had been found to be made of mixed metals, while gold bars that were measured to be 22 and 24 carats during deposit turned out to be 18 carat later. 

The bank had made ANM Abul Kashem the head of that committee, alongside Awlad Hossain Chowdhury, currency officer (general manager of the vault), Sultan Masud Ahmed, general manager of currency management’s department and three other top officials.

In the BB committee report, a gold coin and ring was accidentally registered as 80% instead of 40%. Various other CIID objections were made as their verification process was not similar to that followed by the central bank.

Regarding the issue of weight discrepancy, it was stated that the gold items were weighed without taking circumstantial conditions into consideration.

The CIID investigation report had created a conflict between them and the Bangladesh Bank, which prompted the latter to call an emergency press conference on July 17 to refute CIID’s findings, citing them to be “incorrect”.

The gold discrepancy did not compromise the vault’s security measures, it was claimed by BB during the conference, but due to clerical and mechanical mistakes during record-keeping, CIID’s and BB’s findings were different.

The central bank’s committee report also stated that a unique number on every gold item, which is usually put on a masking tape using red ink by a customs house representative, was not tampered with.

In addition, two differing carat verification methods led to conflicting figures and statistics. The committee report also suggested that the CIID did not take the central bank’s verification process into consideration, which led to separate carats of gold items recorded.

Regarding weight of the gold items, the central bank’s weighing machine is strategically located, while the presence of a strong pedestal fan also compromises actual weigh-in figures of the items, as well as not aggregating the actual weight figures into round figures – all these influenced the CIID’s investigation report. 

It was also stated that all the gold items were weighed individually rather than collectively, which brought forward a 449.7 gram difference between the two reports, something which was acceptable according to Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institute (BSTI) benchmarks. 

The items are weighed before they are bought off at auctions and again before entering the central bank’s vault, so there is no room for tampering with the weight details, the report read.

Although the clarity level of gold rings and coins are 40%, the BB report stated that all the entries of July 17 were registered as 80% accidentally, as other gold items such as jewelry items are verified using an 80% clarity level.

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