RBI to Swap Gold to Improve Reserves Quality

RBI-logoMumbai: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said yesterday that it had sought quotes from banks to swap gold in its own vaults for international-standard gold, aiming to improve the management of its reserves.

The RBI sources said that the measure would “standardize the gold available with RBI in India with respect to international standards” and the gold acquired would be delivered to its overseas custodian, the Bank of England.

By holding gold reserves in London, the RBI would gain flexibility to mobilize them if needed to defend the currency. It shipped some of its gold holdings to Britain in 1991 as part of a series of emergency measures to tackle a financial crisis.

Under the leadership of Governor Raghuram Rajan, appointed last year, the RBI has sought to modernize its market operations and improve the management of gold and foreign currency reserves that are worth a total of around $315 billion.

According to the World Gold Council, India holds the 11th-largest gold reserves of 557 tonnes. At current market prices, they would be worth nearly $24 billion. It was not immediately clear how much of that would be swapped.

“RBI, in consultation with the government, would decide further in regard to quantity, swap-ratio, timing etc. of the gold to be swapped,” the RBI said in an emailed response to questions from Reuters.

The Economic Times reported earlier that the RBI had sounded out bankers on a plan to swap some of the old, relatively impure, gold that has been lying in its own vaults since before independence in 1947.