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.
Reporters from 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 realize 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.
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Mark O'Byrne is executive director of Ireland-based GoldCore.