By Ted Thornhill
Massive security headache as Hugo Chavez orders 100 tonnes of gold bullion stored in Bank of England vault back to Venezuela
It’s the sort of news that would make greedy Bond villain Blofeld sit up – Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez wants the 211 tonnes of gold he’s storing overseas, much of it in Britain, shipped back to Caracas.
What’s more, flying is out of the question because no insurance company would be able to cover a single aircraft carrying a consignment of gold this big, which is worth £7billion. This means that ships will have to be used, which are far more vulnerable.
The decision by the South American leader comes at a time when the price of gold is soaring. Yesterday it hit a record high of $1,825.99 an ounce.
In light of this, there is a trend for countries to store their physical gold reserves at home, but the order from Chavez could also be one of trust – that he doesn’t want his nation’s precious metals locked up in nations he considers unfriendly.
‘Chavez’s move … could be the result of looking for alternative jurisdiction from the U.S and Europe, as he sees in the future a threat of international seizure of those assets,’ said IHS Global Insight analyst Diego Moya-Ocampos.
A whopping 99.2 tonnes of his gold is stored in the Bank of England’s vaults, while the rest is distributed around safes belonging to Barclays, HSBC and Standard Chartered.
Venezuela lies 15th in the table of gold owners, with 365.8 tonnes.
Mr Chavez has declared that he wants 90 per cent of the metal to be kept on home soil.