861.51/2194

The Secretary of State to the French Ambassador (Claudel)

The Secretary of State presents his compliments to His Excellency, the Ambassador of the French Republic, and has the honor to acknowledge the receipt of his note of March 5, 1928, concerning the rights of the Bank of France with respect to gold held by the Soviet regime. The Ambassador refers to the prohibition placed in 1921 on the acceptance by Assay Offices of gold emanating from Russia, and inquires whether he can rely upon the maintenance of the measures which have been taken by the American Government with regard to imports of Russian gold.

In reply, the Secretary of State has the honor to state that he has been advised by the Treasury Department that there is no present intention on the part of that Department to change the position, maintained by it since 1920, with respect to the acceptance of gold [Page 831]of Soviet origin, when tendered at United States Mints and Assay Offices. In this connection there is enclosed a copy of a statement issued to the press by the Secretary of the Treasury on March 6, 1928, setting forth the attitude of the Treasury Department with regard to the purchase of the Soviet gold referred to in the Ambassador’s note.

[Enclosure]

Press Release Issued by the Treasury Department, March 6, 1928

Statement by Secretary of the Treasury Mellon:

Some days ago there arrived in New York from the National Bank of Soviet Russia some $5,000,000 of gold, half of which was consigned to the Chase National Bank and the other half to the Equitable Trust Company as agents. Since 1920 the Treasury Department has refused to accept at the United States mints and assay offices gold coming from Soviet Russia, the State Department having declined to give assurances that the title to Soviet gold will not be subject to attack internationally or otherwise.

In this particular instance the Treasury Department asked the Equitable Trust Company and the Chase National Bank whether they were ready to purchase the gold from the National Bank of Soviet Russia and present it to the assay office at New York as owners. The two banks have just informed this Department that they are unwilling to purchase Soviet gold before presenting the same at the assay office and that the presentation, if made, would be solely as agent for the Russian Bank.

The provisions of law under which the Treasury acts in purchasing gold or bullion through the United States mints and assay offices are as follows:

Section 3519, Revised Statutes: “Any owner of gold bullion may deposit the same at any mint to be formed into coin or bars for his benefit …”

Inasmuch as provision is made by law only for deposits by owners of gold, and since the Equitable Trust Company and the Chase National Bank are unwilling to present the gold as owners, the New York assay office will decline to receive this $5,000,000 of gold.