2 JUNE 1939, Page 34


It almost looks as if Scotland Yard or M. Poirot ought to be called in to solve the £6,000,000 Czech Gold Mystery. Even the Chancellor, it seems, does not yet know whether the gold which the Bank for International Settlements has instructed to be made over to the Reichsbank has actually left London where it was being held, and this although the gold has been the subject of quite lively controversy in the House of Commons for nearly a fortnight. I should have thought that this part of the mystery could be cleared up by a few seconds' conversation over the telephone between Whitehall and Threadneedle Street, but apparently the Treasury has somehow not seen fit to make the inquiry. Meantime, there seems to be a rather foolish confusion between this £6,000,000 of gold, which was not covered under the Act which impounded certain Czech assets, in- cluding a substantial amount of gold, held in London, and the assets which are covered by the Act. Discussions are taking place at the Treasury concerning these assets and, in my view, quite rightly. How else can any basis be arranged on which these assets can be set off against the liabilities to people here, including the holders of Czecho-Slovak sterling debt?

As for the £6,000,000 held by the B.I.S. in London, the responsibility for the transfer to the Reichsbank must rest with the B.LS. itself, which has acted on orthodox banking principles in complying with the wish of its customer, the new central bank at Prague. How it could have acted in any other way it is difficult to see, unless it was prepared to sow the seeds of an internal dissension which might easily have led to its own undoing. Without any special know- ledge, I imagine that the two Bank of England representa- tives on the B.I.S. were scarcely " consulted " in any real sense in a matter which would be regarded as merely banking routine. In that event it would scarcely be correct to accuse them, still less the Bank of England, of having followed a line of action which legally recognises Germany's seizure of Czecho-Slovakia.

(Continued on page 976)