The Modi government secretly transported 200 tonnes of the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) gold reserve overseas immediately after coming to power in May 2014, a candidate fighting the Lok Sabha election from the South Delhi constituency has alleged.
An investigative journalist by profession, Navneet Chaturvedi reached his conclusion after filing an RTI seeking information on the existing gold reserves of the RBI last year and through the study of central bank’s annual reports. The scribe-turned-politician claims that the missing 200 tonne gold is the same which was bought by the Indian government from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 2009.
Under IMF’s limited gold sales programme in 2009, India purchased gold worth Rs 31,490 crore from the Bretton Woods’ institution.
In response to an RTI query in August 2018 seeking information on the quantity of gold stocked up in RBI’s Nagpur vault, the central bank stated that the said information could not be disclosed as per the extant disclosure policy of the Reserve Bank of India.
In response to another question on the quantity of gold held overseas, the RBI replied that the “Reserve Bank of India holds 268.01 tonnes of gold overseas in safe custody with Bank of England and Bank of International Settlements.”
“What did the government get in return for exchanging the gold? Why is the information about the transaction not available in public domain?” Chaturvedi is now asking.
After going through RBI’s audit reports from the year 2011 through 2015, Chaturvedi claimed that “something fishy” happened between 2014 and 2015.
As per RBI’s annual balance sheet dated June 30, 2011, the said quantity of gold was in India as of then.
The annual balance sheet on released on June 30, 2014, also showed that the gold remained in India.
However, the process to transport the gold overseas, away from public limelight, began immediately after the Modi government came to power in May 2014. As per the annual audit report of 2015, a part of the said gold was kept at the Bank of International Settlements, Switzerland, while the rest remained in India.
“This transfer of India’s gold assets to a foreign country should have been in public domain. The government is clearly hiding something, hoping that they would be able to avoid public scrutiny,” says Chaturvedi.
The RBI has been asked to comment on the allegations through a query dated May 1. The story will be updated as and when the central bank responds.