Hugo Chavez Nationalizes Venezuelan Gold Industry, Demands 211 Tons Be Returned From Abroad - JPMorgan, Bank Of England & ETFs Scramble For Physical MetalAugust 17, 2011
This is the biggest story of the late day with implications for Jamie Dimon, precious metal ETFs, and central banks worldwide. We'll start at the beginning.
Anyone holding gold miner Rusoro is panicking.
Toronto-listed Rusoro, owned by Russia's Agapov family, is the only large gold miner operating in Venezuela. It produced 100,000 ounces last year.
The gold industry will be just the latest part of the economy to be put under state control by the socialist leader, who said he would issue the necessary decree in the coming days and called on the military to help control the sector.
"I have here the laws allowing the state to exploit gold and all related activities ... we are going to nationalize the gold and we are going to convert it, among other things, into international reserves because gold continues to increase in value," Chavez said in a phone call to state television.
CARACAS—Venezuela plans to transfer billions of dollars in cash reserves from abroad to banks in Russia, China and Brazil and tons of gold from European banks to its central bank vaults, according to documents reviewed Tuesday by The Wall Street Journal.
The planned moves would include transferring $6.3 billion in cash reserves, most of which Venezuela now keeps in banks such as the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland, and Barclays Bank in London to unnamed Russian, Chinese and Brazilian banks, one document said.
Venezuela also plans to move 211 tons of gold it keeps abroad.
The problem for Jamie Dimon and JPMorgan is that they hold only 10.6 tonnes of gold, and all of it belongs to Venezuela, though they have pledged approximately 100 times that amount in various paper markets.
While Venezuela is a relatively minor player on the world stage, this could be a big game changer here in the United States because one of the banks that holds 10.6 tons of Venezuela’s gold is none other than JP Morgan. In a recent audit of JP Morgan’s holdings it was reported that they held 338,303 ounces of gold or roughly 10.6 tons. While this is a modest size deposit it is sure to cause some jitters at JP Morgan as they scramble to find the replacement gold which has already been pledged about 100 times across various paper markets to ETF’s like the SPDR Gold ETF (NYSE:GLD).
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez ordered his government to repatriate $11 billion in gold held in banks abroad to safeguard the country from the economic crisis and said he’ll nationalize the local gold industry.
Venezuela has about 211 tons of its 365 tons of gold reserves held abroad at institutions including the Bank of England, JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), Barclays Plc (BARC), Standard Chartered Plc (STAN)and the Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS), according to a government document.
“We’ve held 99 tons of gold at the Bank of England since 1980. I agree with bringing that home,” Chavez said today on state television. “It’s a healthy decision.”
Chavez, who has said he wants to eliminate the “dictatorship” of the U.S. dollar, has called on Venezuela’s central bank to diversify its $28.7 billion in reserves away from U.S. institutions. Some cash reserves, which total $6.3 billion, will be shifted into currencies from emerging markets including China, Russia, Brazil and India, central bank President Nelson Merentes said today at a news conference.