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Has RBI Brought Back Gold That Was Pledged in 1991? No, Claim Lacks Context

We found that that the gold that was pledged in 1991 was redeemed by repayment of the loan in the same year.

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WebQoof
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A post that states India has recently brought back around 100 tonnes of gold from the United Kingdom that was pledged by the then government in 1991 is going viral on the internet.

We found that that the gold that was pledged in 1991 was redeemed by repayment of the loan in the same year.

An archive of the post can be found here.

(Source: Facebook/Screenshot)

We received several queries about the viral claim on our WhatsApp tipline as well.

More archives of similar claims can be viewed here, here, and here.

Some context: As per Times of India (TOI), the RBI has shifted over 100 tonnes of gold from the UK to India. Some official sources confirmed to the media outlet that the transfer was for logistical reasons and for diversified storage.

What is the truth?: While it is true that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has brought back 100 tonnes from its reserves, the context is misleading.

  • The RBI has maintained gold reserves in foreign countries for decades and still continues to hold around 400 tonnes abroad.

  • Moreover, the pledged gold was redeemed between September and November 1991.

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What happened in 1991?: We performed a keyword search using the words "gold reserve government rbi" and came across an answer given by the Minister of State of Ministry of Finance Pankaj Chaudhary in Rajya Sabha.

  • He said that the RBI had pledged 46.91 tonnes of gold with the Bank of Japan and the Bank of England in July 1991 as per of the reserves management policy to raise a loan of 405 million dollars.

  • Chaudhary added the loan was repaid between September and November 1991.

We found that that the gold that was pledged in 1991 was redeemed by repayment of the loan in the same year.

The response was given in 2021.

(Source: Digital Sansad/Screenshot)

What did the RBI data show?: The annual report for 1991-92 showed that the gold pledged for the amount was redeemed by repaying the loan during September to November 1991. Additionally, 18.36 tonnes of gold was purchased by the RBI that lifted the total tally to 65.27 tonnes.

  • As per the report, all of the gold was kept abroad for the time being.

We found that that the gold that was pledged in 1991 was redeemed by repayment of the loan in the same year.

The text is available on page 73 of the report.

(Source: RBI/Screenshot)

Gold held by RBI at present: To learn more about the country's gold reserves, we reviewed the RBI's annual report for 2023-24.

  • It said that the total gold held by the bank was 822.10 metric tonnes as of 31 March 2024, which was up from 794.63 metric tonnes in March 2023.

  • It showed about 308.83 tonnes of gold held as backing for notes issued and is stored domestically. However, the gold held as asset of banking department showed about 514.07 tonnes.

  • Out of 514.07, 100 metric tonnes were held in India and the rest 413.79 was held abroad. This indicated the transfer of gold to India took place during this financial year.

We found that that the gold that was pledged in 1991 was redeemed by repayment of the loan in the same year.

The table could be found on page 236 of the annual report.

(Source: RBI/Screenshot)

Annual report of RBI for 2013-2014: As per the data available, about 292.26 metric tonnes of gold was held as backing for notes issued as on 30 June 2014.

  • The report showed 265.49 metric tonnes being held as banking department assets. These figures were the same as 2013.

We found that that the gold that was pledged in 1991 was redeemed by repayment of the loan in the same year.

The table could be found on page 145 of the annual report.

Gold purchased during 2009: In November 2009, the RBI had purchased around 200 metric tonnes of gold from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) worth 6.7 billion dollars.

This confirmed a pattern that the RBI has been regularly adding gold to its reserves domestically and abroad over the years.

Conclusion: It is clear that the viral claim of India bringing back gold from United Kingdom is going viral with a misleading context.

(Not convinced of a post or information you came across online and want it verified? Send us the details on WhatsApp at 9540511818, or e-mail it to us at webqoof@thequint.com and we'll fact-check it for you. You can also read all our fact-checked stories here.)

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