*Updated table on 14 Feb 2012 with 2011 figures*
In this interview, Lenny Organ (son of Harvey Organ who was at CFTC hearing) recounts how at a recent visit to the vaults of ScotiaBank they saw little physical precious metals and had to go to some trouble to get physical.
I analysed Scotia's annual report back in September 2009 after seeing a blog by ispeakofpeak on the issue. At that time the annual report revealed that Scotia only had 43% of its gold and silver certificate liabilities backed by physical metal. The table below updates that post with the most recent report (note: Scotia's financial year end is 31 Oct, figures in millions of dollars).
Ending Liabilities Assets Physical cover
Oct 11 3,931 9,249 100%
Oct 10 5,153 6,497 100%
Oct 09 3,856 5,580 100%
Oct 08 5,619 2,426 43%
Oct 07 5,986 4,046 68%
Oct 06 3,434 3,362 98%
Oct 05 2,711 2,822 100%
Oct 04 2,018 2,302 100%
It appears that the physical backing was running down from 2006 but is now back to 100%+, with $5.58 billion of physical. This contrasts with Lenny Organ statement. Either Scotia have run down a lot of physical in 6 months or it is stored elsewhere.
I do find it interesting that the gold and silver certificate liability has declined from $5.619b to $3.856b in the past year, a year when most ETFs, GoldMoney and BullionVault and Perth Mint have shown increasing amounts of metal held.
I agree with Adrian Douglas' statement in the interview that many storage providers "are very vague about what is backing their paper certificates and if they are vague I think you should not give them the benefit of the doubt". Contrast this statement from Scotia about their unallocated:
"Scotiabank gold certificates are backed by the assets of The Bank of Nova Scotia. Unallocated gold is a claim on The Bank of Nova Scotia for the ounces entitlement to a specific quantity of gold bullion."
with the Perth Mint's:
"With unallocated storage, also known as a metal account, clients purchase an interest in a pool of precious metal held by The Perth Mint. The Mint purchases an ounce of precious metal from the spot market for every unallocated ounce it sells to clients. Accordingly every unallocated ounce is 100% backed. ... The Perth Mint is not a bullion bank and does not provide project financing or bullion lending/derivative services to mining companies or other entities. It does not lend client's unallocated metal to support short selling transactions or other derivative activities. The unallocated metal is utilised solely to fund the Mint's operations."
You should always read the fine print.