By Richard Walker —
Who controls Ukraine’s gold reserves, worth about $1.5 billion, remains one of the great mysteries of 2014. And if that is not bad enough for Ukrainians, evidence has emerged that the country’s central bank was duped into buying an unknown amount of lead bars that had been painted gold, believing they were the real thing.
Since March 2014, there has been widespread speculation about the whereabouts of the country’s 40 metric tons of gold bullion. In March 2014, Russian news and commentary website “Iskra” claimed 40 metric tons of gold were spirited out of Kiev’s central bank in the capital in a hush-hush military-style operation and loaded onto a plane at the national airport. The plane then took off for an unknown destination.
While the story did not make it into the mainstream media, it was picked up by Shanghai Metals Market (SMM), “China’s leading, independent, integrated suppliers of metals market intelligence.” It reported that a Ukrainian government source confirmed 40 metric tons of Ukraine’s gold had been airlifted to the United States.
For SMM, the figure of 40 metric tons seemed strange since the World Gold Council had listed Ukraine’s gold reserves at only 36 metric tons. According to SMM, orders for the transfer of the gold were given by the country’s acting Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and the U.S. Federal Reserve organized the operation.
One of the questionable issues at the heart of the mystery is that if Yatsenyuk gave the order for the removal of his nation’s gold reserves, he did it in March, just weeks after he was propelled into power by Washington. U.S. officials had conspired with right wing elements to overthrow the elected government of the country’s president, Victor Yanukovich. Another element of the puzzle is that in February before Yanukovich fled to Moscow, the country’s Central Bank chairman, Sergey Arbuzov, claimed the nation’s gold reserves were 21 metric tons and not the 40 metric tons reported by SMM and its source a month later.
If that is not puzzling enough, in May 2014, Vira Rychakovska, deputy chairman of Ukraine’s National Bank boasted her country was 47th in the world with a gold hoard of 36.1 metric tons of gold. However, she neglected to reveal the actual location where the gold was being stored, choosing to say instead it was within the National Bank’s foreign currency reserves.
Washington and the Fed have denied any knowledge of the vanishing gold, but that should not surprise anyone. After all, where is Libya’s gold? It is suspected that after the fall of the Libyan regime, a move also engineered by Washington, massive gold reserves of the late Colonel Muammar Qadaffi were spirited out of that country, too, into the New York Federal Reserve Bank. The Fed has been a major repository for gold bullion since the end of World War II. Germany has been trying to repatriate its gold from the Fed and demanded an audit of Fed holdings in 2014. The Bank of the Netherlands removed 120 metric tons of gold from the Fed in 2014, implying it was not happy having its gold in the U.S.
If the missing Ukraine gold seems like a bizarre tale, even more absurd is the fact the country’s Central Bank in Odessa was buying what it thought was gold from the public to boost its reserves. It has since transpired one of its senior employees was scamming the bank by replacing actual hold bars with ones made of lead and painted gold. There is therefore a strong possibility the Fed in New York is holding in its cache of Ukraine’s gold bullion some gold that is not the real thing.
Richard Walker is the pen name of a former N.Y. news producer.