Texas set to open gold bullion depository

Germany Gold Reserves_489215

Various gold bars, are displayed in the German central bank’s headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 9, 2017. Germany’s central bank has completed an effort to bring home 300 tons of gold stashed in the United States, part of a plan to repatriate gold bars kept abroad during the Cold War. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texas is getting its very own version of Fort Knox–a bullion depository–Comptroller Glenn Hegar announced Wednesday.

Located in the Austin area, the Texas Bullion Depository will be operated by Lone Star Tangible Assets. Texans, businesses and foreign nationals can deposit their bullion at LSTA’s existing facilities while a purpose-built depository will be completed in 2018.

Bullion depositories offer those with tangible assets, such as gold bars, an easy place to store their wealth without having to worry about insuring and accounting for their own collections

“Lone Star Tangible Assets brings the right combination of experience, financial stability and infrastructure necessary to make this depository a success,” Tom Smelker, the director of Treasury Operations at the Comptroller’s office, who has also been named as the administrator of the depository said. “LSTA had a comprehensive vision for a safe and secure vaulting facility located right here in the Austin area, and they addressed a lot of concerns we had relating to everything from transportation and security to customer service and IT infrastructure.”

The Comptroller’s office will provide oversight of the project during the build-out of the depository and will continue oversight when the operation goes live. The Comptroller’s Criminal Investigation Division has already performed inspections of existing facilities and physical security measures, while the Information Technology and Information Security divisions examined proposed software and digital security systems.

In 2015, Gov. Greg Abbott signed a piece of legislation creating the depository saying, “With the passage of this bill, the Texas Bullion Depository will become the first state-level facility of its kind in the nation, increasing the security and stability of our gold reserves and keeping taxpayer funds from leaving Texas to pay for fees to store gold in facilities outside our state.”

Currently, the Federal Reserve is storing nearly $600 million worth of gold bars owned by University of Texas Investment Management Company in New York. The newly formed bullion will allow the state to bring its gold back to Texas.

“This is a great moment in the history of our state,” Hegar said. “The Texas Bullion Depository will be yet another example of why Texas is the greatest state in the nation and a leader when it comes to economic innovations. People will be able to sleep at night knowing the state of Texas is protecting their gold.”

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