Amid allegations of irregularities surrounding the gold kept by the customs in the central bank’s vault, the state minister for finance has said the government will look into the matter, Agencies report.
“We will look into what has happened there,” said MA Mannan after an emergency meeting at the secretariat on Wednesday.
The meeting was called a day after the Prothom Alo reported the gold scam in the Bangladesh Bank vault citing an inspection by the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Directorate or CIID.
Fazle Kabir, Bangladesh Bank governor, Md Eunusur Rahman, secretary to the Bank and Financial Institutions Division, and Shahidul Islam, director general of CIID, attended the meeting. The state minister said the incident was not seen as a ‘trivial’, because the problem can be bigger.
He said he was rattled by the news.
“I had no idea about it … the way it was presented in the newspaper, it appears to me that it was a terrible thing. All day long … since my senior minister is not in the country, I have spoken as much as possible to my friends and tried to get information.”
The state minister’s concern eased after the Bangladesh Bank’s clarification.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Bangladesh Bank denied the report that the gold kept by the customs at its vault was adulterated.
“I was tense in the morning, but I relaxed by evening after speaking to the NBR and Bangladesh Bank. They said what has been reported is not correct. The news has been exaggerated. This is not correct … I am convinced that there is no problem with it.”
When two public agencies work together, there may be a “conceptual difference” at times, it is ‘nothing new’, said Mannan.
Claiming that the vault’s gold is right there, he said, “It has become clear as we sit together…will sit further. The quantity that was said to be 963 kg is not exactly correct. All the gold is fine, it is in the vault.”
Mannan said if people or organisations want to check his claims, they can visit the Bangladesh Bank.
“There were problems related to the number 8 in English and 4 in Bangla (they look similar), it’s a clerical error. There was an English and Bangla numbers mix-up… Both authorities have assured me that there is nothing to be worried.”
“When the minister returns to the country, we will brief him about the matter. The minister will take a decision on what to do about the matter so that we can remove any suspicion.”
On being asked, the state minister said, “There is no reason for anything to get out of the vault ‘at all’. There are six-level security measures; even the governor cannot go to the vault without permission.”
He was asked whether action will be taken about the mistake which the Bangladesh Bank calls ‘clerical error’. The state minister responded: “We will review the entire systems of security, measurements, personnel who work there… we will review everything. If we find any negligence, action will be taken as per law. ”
The CIID found the anomalies while inspecting randomly sampled gold from 963kg deposit in the central bank’s vault from January to April last year, Bangla daily Prothom Alo reported on Tuesday.
CIID kept gold coins and rings weighing 3.3kg in the vault on Aug 23, 2015, but during the inspection it found adulteration in the gold, which caused the state a loss of over Tk 11.1 million, according to the report.
The state suffered another loss of over Tk 19 million by showing 22 carat gold as that of 18 carat, the report claims.
CIID agents often seize large hauls of smuggled gold at airports and hand these to the Bangladesh Bank.