The misdeeds of Montagu Dec 19, 2013 4:39:28 GMT -5
Post by Gerard on Dec 19, 2013 4:39:28 GMT -5
Based in Basel, the Bank for International Settlements is an exclusive club for central bankers. Thirteen of them spend up to six week-ends a year there, enjoying intimate conversations, safe in the knowledge that no minutes will be taken and no leaks tolerated. Their main subjects of conversation, according to one of them, Mr. Brod the Hungarian, are the quality of the food and the stupidity of Finance Ministers.
The Bank was established in 1930 by Montagu Norman of the Bank of England and Hjalmar Schacht of the German Reichsbank. Mr. Adam LeBor has now written a book about it, wherein he at last gives us the murky story of the Bank of England's rôle in assisting Hilter's Germany to help itself to Czechoslovakia's gold reserves. In 1939, conscious of the threat from Germany, the National Bank of Czechoslovakia transferred its fifty tons* of gold to two accounts at the Bank of England; one of twenty-seven tons in its own name, and a second, comprising twenty-three tons, in the B.I.S. account, imagining it would be safe there. But they had reckoned without Montagu Norman!!
When the Germans did invade, they ordered that the Czech gold be transferred to the Reichsbank account in London. Czech assets had already been blocked by the British government, which protected the gold in the National Bank's account; but Norman unilaterally sanctioned the transfer of the gold in the B.I.S. account to the Reichsbank, insisting that no government had the power to intervene in any B.I.S. business.
During the war, the B.I.S.-Nazi relationship remained strong. The B.I.S. continued until the end of the conflict to credit Germany's account with looted gold, a good deal of it Jewish. At the Bretton Woods conference in 1944, a motion to liquidate the B.I.S. was proposed, and supported by the Amercians. But Keynes the clean-limbed English homo-sexualist lost his temper and threatened to leave. A compromise motion was accepted, calling for the liquidation of the B.I.S. at "the earliest possible moment." Now, seventy years later, we still await the arrival of that moment. Montagu, noted for his somewhat raffish and arty appearance, was in 1944 conveniently raised to the peerage as Baron Norman of St Clere in the County of Kent.
For all this information - some of it very useful indeed - we are grateful to Mr. Fay the Antipodean cricket fanatique. "Ownership" is such a fluid concept is it not?
* [Actually fifty tons is not all that much in the present day and age. I personally have sixty-five!]