Secret mission moves billions in gold from London to Poland

It seems like a page taken out of a spy novel.

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Four trucks pull out of a “secret” facility somewhere in London while the city sleeps. A police escort on the ground and the air joins the heavy trucks with lights flashing to clear the road and a helicopter whirring above.

The passenger receiving this high-security entourage? Twenty large wooden crates filled with solid gold bars.

The events last Friday were not the first time this mission was carried out.

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“It was the eighth time we had made the trip, in the middle of the night,” Paul Holt, general manager of G4Si in Europe (North and South), Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States, said. “It was all very secretive, and extremely important it was done well.”

Any large delivery of gold would seem important given the value of the cargo. But these shipments were important because of the historic significance.

According to G4Si, after Germany invaded Poland in the early days of World War II, Poland arranged for its entire reserves of gold to be evacuated rather than fall into the hands and coffers of the Third Reich. The “exporting” of Poland reserves began the night of Sept. 4, 1939, three days after the first Nazi tanks rolled across the border. Some 80 tons of gold, along with banknotes, were sent on a journey through Romania to Turkey, across the Mediterranean Sea into Africa, back to the European continent and France and ending in New York. Part of the shipments that wound up in London resulted from Poland’s national reserve split into three sections in 1943 and placed in the Federal Reserve Bank in New York, the Bank of Canada in Ottawa and the Bank of England in London.

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In total, G4Si delivered 100 tons of gold – worth more than $5 million from the Bank of England to Poland’s central bank, Narodowy Bank Polski, according to G4Si’s website. The logistics and security firm engineered eight trips in total.

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When the gold landed in Poland, the shipments received a similar high-alert response. Two G4Si staff were met by an elite team of Polish police. The gold was loaded into three armored vehicles, which were taken to undisclosed locations.

“We stopped at no traffic lights," one of the G4Si employee staffers said. "G4Si took on the risk and liability of the entire transfer, until the gold was inside the Polish vaults and verified to be the right bars.”

This move by Poland’s central bank was not made in a vacuum. Last year, banks added an incredible 651.5 tons -- worth $27.7 billion -- to their holdings, according to the World Gold Council. Gold is often acquired as a hedge against declining economies and stock market falls. Of the move overseen by his company, Julian Haskard, managing director of G4Si, said this was a historic day in the gold industry.

“With increasing geopolitical insecurity, this is not a surprising move,” Haskard said.

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The trade tensions that have arisen under President Trump has played a hand in this global move toward gold.

“Trade tensions are a major unknown," Isabelle Strauss-Kahn, a former World Bank Official wrote in a piece for the WGC website, said. "They have already had a negative impact on growth and if the U.S. and China do not reach a genuine truce, the global outlook may worsen further. Fears of retaliation and escalation may hit business investment, supply chains may be disrupted and productivity may slow across the world stage.”

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