Swiss group petitions government to stop selling gold reserves, repatriate holdings

A right-wing organization, led by the Swiss People’s Party, the far-right Swiss Democrats and the Lega dei Ticinesi movement, submitted a petition with more than 106,000 signatures that urges the federal government to stop seeking the sale of its gold reserves and to return its gold bars stored in the United States.

Once the signatures are verified, the group expects a nationwide vote to take place, but a date has not yet been announced by federal authorities. Activists confirmed last week that the signatures were amassed over an 18-month period.

“Gold reserves guarantee the stability of the Swiss franc. They ensure that that private savings, salaries, pension keep their value,” said People’s Party parliamentarian Luzi Stamm in a statement. Stamm added that the selling of its gold reserves began more than one decade ago.

The petition urges the government to confirm where the gold reserves are presently being stored, which is information only known by high-level officials at the Swiss National Bank (SNB). A large sum of its gold is held in the U.S., but People’s Party parliamentarian Lukas Reimann doubts that its gold is safe with the country that is $16.5 trillion in debt. Switzerland holds roughly 1,040 tons of gold reserves and has sold an estimated 1,550 tons.

When asked by the parliament in 2003 regarding the whereabouts of the nation’s gold reserves, Swiss Finance Minister Kaspar Villiger responded that “I don’t know either, don’t have to know, and don’t want to know.”

The petition also calls for an amendment to the constitution that orders the SNB to maintain a minimum of 20 percent of its assets in gold, which is more than double from its current level.

Despite the hard work by the petition organizers, Reuters notes that a popular vote held on the gold initiative may only take place in several years and will most likely not yield majority backing. The reason why experts say it won’t garner a win is because similar legislation was proposed several years ago.

At the time of this writing, gold is trading at $1,596, down $10 after it traded above $1,600 last week on news of the Cyprus financial crisis. Silver is also trading in the negative side at $0.02 at $28.68.

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