Venezuela scrambles to bring home gold reserves | Metals & Mining

* Chavez ordered $11 billion worth of bullion brought home

* Source says ingots with be flown back, beginning in Nov.

By Eyanir Chinea

CARACAS, Oct 26 (Reuters) – At the foot of a dimly lit spiral staircase far below Venezuela’s Central Bank, workers prepare for an unusual arrival: 17,000 gold bars being shipped back on the order of President Hugo Chavez.

Repatriating about 190 tonnes of bullion worth more than $11 billion from banks in the West will be risky, slow and expensive, experts say.

It is just the latest in a string of grand gestures and controversial plans by the unpredictable socialist leader that are easier for him to order than to put into practice, and it has set officials scurrying to make it happen.

His political opponents accuse Chavez of planning to use the country’s gold to boost his campaign war chest ahead of next year’s presidential election, and others say bringing the gold home is a waste of money and effort.

“It doesn’t make sense. It would be cheaper to sell the gold and at the same time buy gold in closer locations,” said Russ Dallen of Caracas Capital Markets.

Chavez’s government insists the operation will not cost much, and that Venezuela’s reserves will not be put at risk.

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via Venezuela scrambles to bring home gold reserves | Metals & Mining | Reuters.

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