Kerala's gold loan cos own more reserves of yellow metal than some of the richest nations

Kerala's gold loan companies- Muthoot Finance, Manappuram Finance and Muthoot Fincorp - together hold nearly 200 tonnes of gold jewellery, which is higher than the gold reserves of Singapore, Sweden or Australia, a Times of India article pointed out on Sunday.

According to the World Gold Council, India has the 11th largest gold reserves, with 558 tonnes. The US heads the pack with 8,134 tonnes, while Germany and IMF come next (3,384 and 2,814 tonnes, respectively).

While Muthoot Finance holds 116 tonnes of gold as security for its loans, Manappuram Finance has 40 tonnes and Muthoot Fincorp, 39 tonnes. Singapore's gold reserves are 127 tonnes, Sweden's 126 tonnes, South Africa's 125 tonnes and Mexico's 123 tonnes.

For the three months ending September 2014, India emerged as the biggest gold consumer in the world, buying 225.1 tonnes worth gold in jewelry, bars and coins. In the same period, global demand for the yellow metal declined by 2% to 929 tonnes from July to September-the lowest since 2009, according to the World Gold Council.

The World Gold Council estimates that some 200 tonnes of gold will be illegally brought into India this year, about a quarter of India's total consumption in 2013. In fact data from Swiss Customs Administration shows Swiss gold exports to India stood at over 2.8 billion Swiss francs (over Rs 18,000 crore) in October, up from about 2.2 billion Swiss francs in the previous month and is nearing the Rs 1 lakh crore mark for the calender year 2014.This surge in gold shipments has made India the largest destination for the yellow metal exports from Switzerland.

Kerala also has this reputation of being the state with the highest hawala remittance in the country. Last month, gold worth Rs 2 crore was seized at the Cochin International Airport Ltd (CIAL), followed by several such attempts to smuggle gold as black money holders might be converting cash into the yellow metal.

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Updated Date: Dec 15, 2014 15:10:55 IST

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