Monday, February 6, 2012

GATA: Treasury Claims Power to Seize Gold and Silver

GATA has released an email exchange with the US Treasury dept, who advised GATA that the Treasury has the authority to prohibit private ownership of physical gold and silver as well as mining shares during times of declared emergencies such as war. 
While Turbo Timmy and his friends would like to have you believe that their bite is as strong as their bark, we again assert our opinion that pooled retirement accounts such as IRAs and 401k's are at the highest risk of seizure (forced moves into treasury bond market, etc), followed by nationalization of mines.  Should the treasury prohibit the private ownership of gold and silver such as was done with gold in the 1930's, don't expect any door-to-door searches.  Less than 1% of financial assets in this country are invested in gold and silver combined, and most of that is in GLD/SLV and mining shares.  The American people simply do not own gold and silver in enough quantity to make confiscation a realistic policy.

Dear Friend of GATA and Gold:
Because of recent inquiries to GATA about the possibility of an attempt by the U.S. Government to confiscate privately held gold and silver bullion and coins and shares in companies mining the precious metals, we're republishing here the correspondence between GATA and the U.S. Treasury Department on the subject in 2005.
The Treasury Department was surprisingly candid in that correspondence, asserting the U.S. Government's authority, in declared emergencies, to confiscate precious metals and to restrict ownership of mining shares -- and to confiscate and restrict every other financial asset as well. So perhaps precious metals investors shouldn't feel too paranoid.
Confiscation has never seemed to GATA to be a serious or imminent threat. While the U.S. Government in 1933 did demand the exchange of circulating government-issued coins for paper money (proceeding to devalue the paper money after the gold was surrendered), that gold then was a huge part of the country's money supply, and amid the national economic collapse at that time the government could make a plausible complaint against "hoarding." There are no such circumstances today, gold no longer being in general circulation as currency. (Yes, we're working on that.)
But of course lately the arrogance and imperiousness of the U.S. government have far exceeded even the paranoia of precous metals investors. Certainly capital controls may be imposed in the United States in the next currency crisis, and it's not far from capital controls to even more brutal interventions in the economy.
GATA's correspondence with the Treasury Department on the subject of confiscation is appended, along with the preface that appeared with the correspondence when it first was published.
CHRIS POWELL, Secretary/Treasurer
Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee Inc.

* * *
12:11p ET Saturday, August 20, 2005
Dear Friend of GATA and Gold:
The U.S. Government has the authority to prohibit the private possession of gold and silver coin and bullion by U.S. citizens during wartime, and, during wartime and declared emergencies, to freeze their ownership of shares of mining companies, the TreasuryDepartment has told the Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee.
But gold and silver advocates shouldn't feel too picked on. For the U.S. Government claims the authority in declared emergencies to seize or freeze just about everything else that might be considered a financial instrument.
The Treasury Department's assertions came in a letter dated August 12 and written by Sean M. Thornton, chief counsel for the department's Office of Foreign Assets Control, who replied to questions GATA posed to the department in January. It took GATA six months and a little prodding to get answers from the Treasury, but the Treasury's reply, when it came, was remarkably comprehensive and candid.
The government's authority to interfere with the ownership of gold, silver, and mining shares arises, Thornton wrote, from the Trading With the Enemy Act, which became law in 1917 during World War I and applies during declared wars, and from 1977's International Emergency Economic Powers Act, which can be applied without declared wars.
While the Trading With the Enemy Act authorizes the government to interfere with the ownership of gold and silver particularly, it also applies to all forms of currency and all securities. So the Treasury official stressed that it could be applied not just to shares of gold and silver mining companies but to the shares of all companies in which there is a foreign ownership interest. Further, there is no requirement in the law that the targets of the government's interference must have some connection to the declared enemies of the United States, or, really, some connection to foreign ownership. Anything that can be construed as a financial instrument, no matter how innocently it has been used, is subject to seizure under the Trading With the Enemy Act and the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.
Having just gone through a controversy about a Supreme Court decision about government's power of eminent domain, most Americans may be surprised to learn that the Trading With the Enemy Act and the International Emergency Economic Powers Act could expropriate them instantly and far more broadly without any of the due process extended to parties in eminent domain cases. All that is needed is a presidential proclamation of an emergency of some kind -- and of course Americans lately have been living in a state of perpetual emergency.
When the Trading With the Enemy Act was passed in 1917, gold and silver formed part of the official currency of the United States and were essential to ordinary commerce, so perhaps an argument could be made then against "hoarding," even if "hoarding" could not be well defined. That is no longer the case; the United States has officially disavowed gold and silver as money and they no longer have a meaningful role in commerce. (GATA is working on that.) So gold and silver investors may want to ask their members of Congress to seek repeal of the statutes that give the government the authority to interfere with the private ownership of gold and silver, emergencies or not.
And ordinary citizens with no particular interest in gold and silver may want to ask their members of Congress to reconsider these statutes simply for being wildly tyrannical.
GATA's correspondence with the Treasury Department is appended.
CHRIS POWELL, Secretary/Treasurer
Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee Inc.

Click here for the rest of GATA's exchange with the Treasury Dept