Riksbank Denies IMF Data Showing Gold Reserves Up 18.3 Tons

February 27, 2012 at 15:34

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There are conflicting reports from the IMF and Sweden’s central bank, the Riksbank, this morning about an increase in Swedish gold reserves.

The IMF data on central bank demand in January showed that Sweden raised its gold reserves by 18.3 metric tons to 144 tons in January.

The data on the International Monetary Fund’s website was gold bullish showing continued demand for gold by central banks internationally. Belarus added 5 tons to reserves, Kazakhstan raised reserves by 7.6 tons and Turkey increased gold reserves by 4.1 tons.

They were two quite odd minor reductions in gold reserves. Mexico reduced bullion reserves by 0.1 ton and Tajikistan cut them by 0.3 ton, according to the IMF.

However soon after the increase in Sweden’s gold reserves was reported by Bloomberg, Sweden’s central bank gold reserves contradicted the IMF data and denied that they had increased their reserves.

Joanna Gerwin, acting head of communication for the Riksbank, told Bloomberg that Swedish gold reserves were unchanged at 125.7 metric tons in January.

Officials at the IMF’s office in Paris said nobody in Europe was able to comment. Alistair Thomson, a spokesman for the IMF in Washington, didn’t immediately reply to a voicemail and e-mail from Bloomberg outside normal business hours.

Interestingly, the Riksbank sold 36.6 tons under the Central Bank Gold Agreement (CBGA) from 2007-2009. An increase in reserves of 18.3 tonnes is exactly half of the amount sold and would mean that the Riksbank had bought back half of the gold sold from 2007 to 2009.

Reuters have contacted the Swedish central bank to see what might be behind the discrepancy in what Bloomberg are quoting them as saying and the IMF figures themselves. We have yet to receive an explanation from the Riksbank about what might have caused the discrepancy in gold reserve data.

However, a Riksbank spokeswoman told Reuters the central bank did not buy gold in January. “We don’t know what has happened,” the spokeswoman said, referring to the discrepancy in the figures.

We await clarity from the IMF and it will be interesting to see how the discrepancy is accounted for and explained.

This is an occurrence that we are likely to see occur in the coming months and years as western central banks realise the absolute folly of selling their gold reserves in recent years, including and especially the Bank of England, and begin to diversify their foreign exchange reserves by buying gold bullion again.