Editor's Note: The following is the English free translation of an article which appeared in the Swiss Sonntagsblick. The original title is "Ist unser Gold bei Kriegsherr Bush noch sicher?" - authored by Henry Habegger.
" I dont know ", said the Zuerich SVP Nationalrat Bruno Zuppiger, member of the Finance Commission. " I dont know ", said the St. Gallen CVP Nationalrat Felix Walker, member of the Finance Delegation and former head of the Raiffeisen Bank. " I don't know ", said the Bern FDP Nationalraetin Kaethi Bangerter, member of the Bankrats of the Swiss National Bank and the Finance Commission.
The question, that SonntagsBlick put this week to several financial politicians was: Where is our Gold? Where does the National Bank store its Gold reserves? The " National Wealth " which is so much under discussion, because half of it is being sold and the utilisation of the proceeds is politically controversial. The " Gold Treasure " , which currently amounts to approximately 2000 Tonnes.
Where is our gold? That is exactly what Bern SP Nationalrat Paul Guenter now wants to know. The Security politician will put three questions to the Bundesrat in tomorrow Monday's parliamentary question time.
Is it true, that a considerable part of the Swiss Gold reserves are stored in Fort Knox in the USA?
The Gold Puzzle. Today there are only rumours. A part is supposedly stored underneath the Bundesplatz in Bern. A part in Fort Knox in the US state of Kentucky, the most important storage place for the US gold reserves and deposit for all the European Central Banks. A further part in London, the centre of the international gold trade.
SonntagsBlick posed questions to the Nationalbank. However spokesman Werner Abegg replied protectively: " Many different rumours are in circulation concerning the Nationalbank's gold. For security reasons it is impossible for us to make any comments or corrective statements." The Swiss Nationalbank's spokesman could only be drawn so far to reveal: " The gold is stored in several places both in Switzerland and abroad." According to Abegg following the motto: " The prudent farmer does not put all his eggs into one basket."
The apprehension is clear: the gold could be stolen. This fear appears to be so great , that the Nationalbank refuses to give any indication whatsoever as to the storage places (countries, continents).
SP member Guenther has completely different misgivings. " If it is true that a large part of the gold is stored in Fort Knox, then the situation is extremely uncomfortable. If the USA were to go to war with Iraq without a UNO mandate, the gold is stored in the wrong place - then it must be brought back (to Switzerland)."
He explains why: We cannot store our gold with a nation that is at war. And what would happen, if the USA, who is acting without scruples in the Iraq affair, would suddenly blackmail us using our gold deposited there?" Guenther is afraid that the USA could freeze our gold. " That would be a clear violation of international law. Then we would have to defend our interests at the court in Strassburg (F)," said Bern SVP Nationalrat and finance politician Hermann Weyeneth.
Withdrawl of the gold. That was also demanded 5 years ago by Appenzeller CVP Staenderat Carlo Schmid. When during the Holocaust debate a US collective process was threatened against the Nationalbank, he demanded: " All gold deposited in the USA must be returned." If the gold is really there. The only certainty is: Originally the SNB had 2600 tonnes. Half is being sold, up until the end of 2002, 660 Tonnes had gone. Currently 1 tonne is being sold daily for approximately 15,000 SF per kilo.
Will we know more on Monday? Unlikely. Finance Minister Kaspar Villiger will not disclose in Parliament where the "treasure" is being stored. For "security reasons." " They have something they are hiding" complains Guenther. The Bern politician Weyeneth ridiculed " They really believe Napoleon is coming again. And he will take away the gold, just like he did 200 years ago from the Berner Treasury."
die Schweiz, 9 März 2003