The South American country of Venezuela has completed it plan to repatriate its gold reserves that had been held in foreign countries. Last August, Hugo Chavez announced his intention to bring home the estimated $9 billion in bullion as a demonstration of the country’s sovereignty and sound monetary policy. He said that having it under local control would help shield the country from the economic upheaval challenging the United States and Europe.
Venezueala Repatriates its Gold into its Central Bank
Despite this official justification for the policy, some analysts have speculated that the South American strongman wanted the precious metal in Venezuela’s Central Bank to remove the possibility that these assets might get frozen as part of a diplomatic offensive against him if they remained in foreign banks. Before the shipments arrived home, the bullion had mostly been held in British banks, although some has also been kept in banks in the United States and Canada. Local political opposition has argued that Chavez has done this as a populist measure intended to increase his popularity as he prepares to run for office again. Critics have also described the plan as expensive and unnecessary.
Central Bank chief Nelson Merentes said the return of the precious metal to its control was a “historic act”. The total weight of the bounty was almost 160 tons. Through a number of shipments starting in November, the cargo was sent by plane and transported to the Central Bank under heavy military guard. According to Merentes, fully 85 percent of the reserves owned by the country are now physically present at the Central Bank. The president’s repatriation plan includes keeping the other 15 percent in various foreign accounts to help the country conduct its international financial business. As Venezuela Repatriates its Gold, the World Gold Council has estimated that the South American country has the fifteenth largest holdings of the precious metal.