The Raiding of Ukraine’s Gold

Valentin KATASONOV

At present, Ukraine is teetering on the brink of a default. Its rapidly dwindling gold and foreign exchange reserves are an indication of the country’s catastrophic financial situation. According to official data, on 1 February 2015 Ukraine’s international reserves amounted to $6,419.7 million. This is a triflingly small amount for a country like Ukraine. Given that the country’s average monthly imports last year were at the $5 billion level, Ukraine only has enough gold and foreign exchange reserves to cover imports for a little more than a month (in line with IMF recommendations, a country should have a minimum reserve equivalent to three months of imports).

The core of any country’s international reserves is monetary gold. It is the most qualitative part of reserves, is independent of the political climate and is an emergency world currency. The issue of Ukraine’s gold, however, is shrouded in a mist of uncertainty and disinformation.

There are the official statistics of the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU), of course, which are duplicated in the reports of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). This information for the past four years can be seen in Table 1.

Table 1.

Ukraine’s gold reserves (monetary gold)

Date Millions of US dollars
On 01.01.2015 1249.0
On 01.01.2012 1385.3
On 01.01.2013 1890.4
On 01.01.2014 1640.2
On 01.01.2015 911.1
On 01.02.2015 967.3

According to this data, on 1 February 2015, the amount of monetary gold in Ukraine’s international reserves was equal to 15.1 per cent. The other main components of the international reserves were as follows: foreign cash and deposits – 20.8 per cent, and investments in securities – 63.9 per cent. The information in Table 1 is given in value terms, while the NBU’s monetary gold is defined as physical gold (standard bullion), gold swaps and gold deposits. To be more convincing, Ukraine’s monetary authorities are also providing information on gold in physical terms – in troy ounces and tonnes. According to the NBU, the country’s gold reserves equalled 0.76 million ounces on 1 January 2015 and 0.77 million on 1 February.

As Table 1 shows, there have been fairly significant fluctuations in the value of gold reserves over the last four years. Last year saw a sharp decline of almost 45 per cent. Let us look more closely at what happened to Ukraine’s gold reserves in 2014. Ukraine’s monetary authorities and the IMF are accounting for the decline in gold reserves as sales of the metal, and unusually large sales took place in the autumn. According to the IMF, Ukraine sold nearly 16 tonnes of gold in October and November, and in December the level of gold reserves came to a stop at the 23.64-tonne mark. The NBU explained that the sale of a third of its gold reserves was related to optimising the structure of international reserves.

However, many experts today do not have a great deal of trust in the official information being provided by the NBU and IMF. Gold specialists know that statistics on gold reserves and gold transactions can be fairly misleading. The falsification of gold reserve statistics began in the 1990s and was designed to conceal illegal gold transactions which involved, among others, the Bank of England and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Falsified statistics allow the theft of gold from the reserves of central banks and treasuries and its relocation to the vaults of the largest private funds and banks to be covered up.

Much has already been written about this shadow market of precious metal. The Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee, an international non-governmental organisation, investigates the secret transactions of the so-called ‘gold trust’, which steals gold and then uses this stolen gold to manipulate the gold market, thereby influencing the overall situation in the global financial and foreign exchange market. The ‘gold trust’ (also referred to as the ‘gold cartel’) is the most important tool of the global financial oligarchy building a new world order.

One of the methods allowing for the falsification of gold statistics is the equating of gold deposits with physical gold and their unification under the common name of ‘monetary gold’. There may not actually be any physical gold in the vaults of a central bank, it may have been moved to another country, but it is possible to formalise this transaction as the placement of gold in a gold deposit account. It is more than likely that this gold will never return to the central bank, but it will continue to be listed on its balance sheet as ‘monetary gold’.

There is speculation that this is what has been done with Ukraine’s gold reserves. According to GATA experts, the global financial oligarchy carries out raids on the gold reserves of any country that has found itself in a difficult economic situation. In this regard, Ukraine is an ideal target for such gold raids.

The fact that there is virtually no physical gold left in Ukraine was let slip by the president of the National Bank of Ukraine, Valeriya Hontareva. In November 2014, she admitted that following the autumn sales of the precious metal, gold accounted for less than 1 per cent of the NBU’s international reserves. Most probably, it was physical gold in the vaults of the NBU that the official was referring to. According to official statistics, however, at that point in time gold accounted for nearly 8 per cent of all Ukrainian reserves ($988.6 million in value terms).

Let us recall events that took place in Kiev a year ago, at the beginning of March. On 7 March, shortly after the uprising and Arseniy Yatsenyuk’s puppet government came to power, an unmarked transport plane took off from Boryspil International Airport in Kiev. Witnesses (airport staff) reported that four trucks and two Volkswagen minibuses drove up to the plane before it took off. None of the vehicles had license plates. Fifteen people in black uniforms, masks and body armour stepped out of the vehicles, some armed with machine guns. They loaded nearly 40 boxes into the plane. The loading was done in a hurry and the plane took off soon after it had been completed. The witnesses reported it to airport officials, but were told not to meddle in other people’s affairs. Sometime later, Ukrainian media received information from an official with the disbanded Ministry of Revenues and Duties. The official stated that on the orders of the new Ukrainian authorities, all of the country’s gold reserves had been taken to the US. You will recall that on the eve of the events of 7 March 2014, the value of the gold in the NBU’s reserves was $1.8 billion, which is equal to approximately 40 tonnes of metal.

According to one of the versions of 7 March, however, it was not monetary gold that was removed from the country, but objects of cultural and historical value. This was also gold, so-called Scythian gold. Pavel Zarifullin, the head of Moscow’s Lev Gumilev Centre, claims it was done on the basis of an agreement between the US authorities and Arseniy Yatsenyuk. Washington promised to help Yatsenyuk obtain an IMF loan, and the Scythian gold was to fulfil the function of securing future credit. According to Zarifullin, the value of the stolen cultural objects far exceeds the value of the gold that the objects are made from, and is as much as $20 billion.

The authorities of Ukraine and the US have opted to remain silent on the mysterious goings on at Boryspil airport. Oleg Tsarov, a former People’s Deputy of the Verkhovna Rada, has asked the Ukrainian Ministry of Culture to look into evidence that «Russian art was stolen from the National Museum of Kiev by so-called ‘local defence’ militants». Similar requests by deputies have been sent to the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Ukraine and to Oleksandr Turchynov, the acting President of Ukraine at the time. So far, however, there has been no response.

Authorities in the US are not responding to such questions either. One of the founders and the head of GATA, Chris Powell, has queried the Federal Reserve Bank of New York about Ukraine’s gold (this Federal Reserve System bank specialises in storing the gold of other countries). The response was as follows: «Any inquiry regarding gold accounts should be directed to the account holder. You may want to contact the National Bank of Ukraine to discuss this report». Powell then queried the US State Department, but from there was referred back to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. After this, Powell sent out queries to the National Bank of Ukraine, the Ukrainian Embassy in the US and the Permanent Mission of Ukraine to the UN. The responses were vague and cleared up nothing. As a result, the head of GATA concluded that: «The difficulty in getting a straight answer here is pretty good evidence that the Ukrainian gold indeed has been sent to the United States». On GATA’s website, Powell writes that the Ukrainian gold will linger in the vaults of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York for a while. The stolen property will then move from hand to hand, ultimately ending up in the vaults of banks that belong to a small handful of representatives of the global financial oligarchy

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