The formation of the BIS was agreed upon by its constituent central banks in the so-called Hague Agreement on January 20, 1930, and was in operation shortly thereafter. According to the Agreement,
And the duly authorized representatives of the Government of the Swiss Confederation of the other part Assembled at the Hague Conference in the month of January, 1930, have agreed on the following:
Article 1. Switzerland undertakes to grant to the Bank for International Settlements, without delay, the following Constituent Charter having force of law: not to abrogate this Charter, not to amend or add to it, and not to sanction amendments to the Statutes of the Bank referred to in Paragraph 4 of the Charter otherwise than in agreement with the other signatory Governments.5
German reparation payments (or lack thereof) had little to do with the founding of the BIS, although this is the weak explanation given since its founding. Of course, Germany would make a single payment to the BIS, which in turn would deposit the funds into the respective central bank accounts of the nations to whom payments were due. (It would be the subject of another paper to show the shallowness of this operation: Money and gold were shuffled around, but the net amount that Germany actually paid was very small.)
The original founding documents of the BIS have little to say about Germany, however, and we can look directly to the BIS itself to see its original purpose:
“The objects of the Bank are: to promote the co-operation of central banks and to provide additional facilities for international operations; and to act as trustees or agent in regard to international financial settlements entrusted to it under agreements with the parties concerned.” 6
Virtually every in-print reference to the BIS, including their own documents, consistently refer to it as “the central banker’s central bank.” So, the BIS was established by an international charter and was headquartered in Basle, Switzerland. The BIS was founded in 1930 during a very troubled time in history. Some knowledge of that history is critical to understanding why the BIS was created, and for whose benefit. There are three figures that play prominently in the founding of the BIS:
- Charles G. Dawes
- Owen D. Young
- Hjalmar Schacht of Germany
Charles G. Dawes was director of the U.S. Bureau of the Budget in 1921, and served on the Allied Reparations Commission starting in 1923. His latter work on “stabilizing Germany’s economy” earned him the Nobel Peace Prize in 1925. After being elected Vice President under President Calvin Coolidge from 1925-1929, and appointed Ambassador to England in 1931, he resumed his personal banking career in 1932 as chairman of the board of the City National Bank and Trust in Chicago, where he remained until his death in 1951.
Owen D Young was an American industrialist. He founded RCA (Radio Corporation of America) in 1919 and was its chairman until 1933. He also served as the chairman of General Electric from 1922 until 1939. In 1932, Young sought the democratic presidential nomination, but lost to Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
More on Hjalmar Schacht later.
In the aftermath of World War I and the impending collapse of the German economy and political structure, a plan was needed to rescue and restore Germany, which would also insulate other economies in Europe from being affected adversely. The Versailles Treaty of 1919 (which officially ended WWI) had imposed a very heavy reparations burden on Germany, which required a repayment schedule of 132 billion gold marks per year. Most historians agree that the economic upheaval caused in Germany by the Versailles Treaty eventually led to Adolph Hitler’s rise to power.
In 1924 the Allies appointed a committee of international bankers, led by Charles G. Dawes (and accompanied by J.P. Morgan agent, Owen Young), to develop a plan to get reparations payments back on track. Historian Carroll Quigley noted that the Dawes Plan was “largely a J.P. Morgan production”1 The plan called for $800 million in foreign loans to be arranged for Germany in order to rebuild its economy.
In 1924, Dawes was chairman of the Allied Committee of Experts, hence, the “Dawes Plan.” He was replaced as chairman by Owen Young in 1929, with direct support by J.P. Morgan. The “Young Plan” of 1928 put more teeth into the Dawes Plan, which many viewed as a strategy to subvert virtually all German assets to back a huge mortgage held by the United States bankers.
Neither Dawes nor Young represented anything more than banking interests. After all, WWI was fought by governments using borrowed money made possible by the international banking community. The banks had a vested interest in having those loans repaid!
In 1924, the president of Reichsbank (Germany’s central bank at that time) was Hjalmar Schacht. He had already had a prominent role in creating the Dawes Plan, along with German industrialist Fritz Thyssen and other prominent German bankers and industrialists.
The Young Plan was so odious to the Germans that many credit it as a precondition to Hitler’s rise to power.
Fritz Thyssen, a leading Nazi Industrialist, stated
“I turned to the National socialist party only after I became convinced that the fight against the Young Plan was unavoidable if complete collapse of Germany was to be prevented.” 2
Some historians too quickly credit Owen Young as the idea-man for the Bank for International Settlements. It was actually Hjalmar Schacht who first proposed the idea3, which was then carried forward by the same group of international bankers who brought us the Dawes and Young Plans. It is not necessary to jump to conclusions as to the intent of these elite bankers, so we will instead defer to the insight of renowned Georgetown historian, Carroll Quigley:
“The Power of financial capitalism had another far reaching plan, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole.
This system was to be controlled in a feudalistic fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent meetings and conferences. The apex of the system was to be the Bank for International Settlements in Basle, Switzerland, a private bank owned and controlled by the world’s central banks, which were themselves private corporations.
Each central bank, in the hands of men like Montagu Norman of the Bank of England, Benjamin Strong of the New York Federal Reserve Bank, Charles Rist of the Bank of France, and Hjalmar Schacht of the Reichsbank, sought to dominate its government by its ability to control treasury loans, to manipulate foreign exchanges, to influence the level of economic activity in the country, and to influence co-operative politicians by subsequent rewards in the business world.”4
According to James C. Baker, pro-BIS author of The Bank for International Settlements: Evolution and Evaluation,
“The BIS was formed with funding by the central banks of six nations, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom. In addition, three private international banks from the United States also assisted in financing the establishment of the BIS.”7
Each nation’s central bank subscribed to 16,000 shares. The U.S. central bank, the Federal Reserve, did not join the BIS, but the three U.S. banks that participated got 16,000 shares each. Thus, U.S. representation at the BIS was three times that of any other nation.
Who were these private banks? Not surprisingly, they were,
- J.P. Morgan & Company (Chase Bank)
- First National Bank of New York (now Citibank)
- First National Bank of Chicago (today, part of Chase)
On January 8, 2001, an Extraordinary General Meeting of the BIS approved a proposal that restricted ownership of BIS shares to central banks. Some 13.7% of all shares were in private hands at that time, and the repurchase was accomplished with a cash outlay of $724,956,050. The price of $10,000 per share was over twice the book value of $4,850. It is not certain what the repurchase accomplished. The BIS claimed that it was to correct a conflict of interest between private shareholders and BIS goals, but it offered no specifics. It was not a voting issue, however, because private owners were not allowed to vote their shares.8
It is not surprising that the BIS, its offices, employees, directors and members share an incredible immunity from virtually all regulation, scrutiny and accountability. In 1931, central bankers and their constituents were fed up with government meddling in world financial affairs. Politicians were viewed mostly with contempt, unless it was one of their own who was the politician. Thus, the BIS offered them a once-and-for-all opportunity to set up the “apex” the way they really wanted it – private. They demanded these conditions and got what they demanded.
- A quick summary of their immunity, explained further below, includes
- diplomatic immunity for persons and what they carry with them (i.e., diplomatic pouches)
- no taxation on any transactions, including salaries paid to employees
- embassy-type immunity for all buildings and/or offices operated by the BIS
- no oversight or knowledge of operations by any government authority
- freedom from immigration restrictions
- freedom to encrypt any and all communications of any sort
- freedom from any legal jurisdiction 9
Further, members of the BIS board of directors are individually granted special benefits:
“immunity from arrest or imprisonment and immunity from seizure of their personal baggage, save in flagrant cases of criminal offence”
“inviolability of all papers and documents”
“immunity from jurisdiction, even after their mission has been accomplished, for acts carried out in the discharge of their duties, including words spoken and writings”
“exemption for themselves, their spouses and children from any immigration restrictions, from any formalities concerning the registration of aliens and from any obligations relating to national service in Switzerland ”
“the right to use codes in official communications or to receive or send documents or correspondence by means of couriers or diplomatic bags” 10
Lastly, all remaining officials and employees of the BIS have the following immunities:
“immunity from jurisdiction for acts accomplished in the discharge of their duties, including words spoken and writings, even after such persons have ceased to be Officials of the Bank”
“exemption from all Federal, cantonal and communal taxes on salaries, fees and allowances paid to them by the Bank…”
exempt from Swiss national obligations, freedom for spouses and family members from immigration restrictions, transfer assets and properties – including internationally – with the same degree of benefit as Officials of other international organizations.11
Of course, a corporate charter can say anything it wants to say and still be subject to outside authorities.
Nevertheless, these were the immunities practiced and enjoyed from 1930 onward.
On February 10, 1987, a more formal acknowledgement called the “Headquarters Agreement” was executed between the BIS and the Swiss Federal Council and basically clarified and reiterated what we already knew:
The buildings or parts of buildings and surrounding land which, whoever may be the owner thereof, are used for the purposes of the Bank shall be inviolable.
No agent of the Swiss public authorities may enter therein without the express consent of the Bank. Only the President, the General Manager of the Bank, or their duly authorized representative shall be competent to waive such inviolability.
The archives of the Bank and, in general, all documents and any data media belonging to the Bank or in its possession, shall be inviolable at all times and in all places.
The Bank shall exercise supervision of and police power over its premises.
Immunity from jurisdiction and execution
The Bank shall enjoy immunity from criminal and administrative jurisdiction, save to the extent that such immunity is formally waived in individual cases by the President, the General Manager of the Bank, or their duly authorized representative.
The assets of the Bank may be subject to measures of compulsory execution for enforcing monetary claims. On the other hand, all deposits entrusted to the Bank, all claims against the Bank and the shares issued by the Bank shall, without the prior agreement of the Bank, be immune from seizure or other measures of compulsory execution and sequestration, particularly of attachment within the meaning of Swiss law. 12
As you can see, the BIS, its directors and employees (past and present) can do virtually anything and everything they want, with complete secrecy, immunity and with no one looking over their shoulders. It was truly a banker’s dream come true, and it paved the international freeway for the rampant financial globalism that we see manifest today.
Acting as a central bank, the BIS has sweeping powers to do anything for its own account or for the account of its member central banks. It is like a two-way power-of-attorney – any party can act as agent for any other party. Article 21 of the original BIS statutes define day-to-day operations:
- buying and selling of gold coin or bullion for its own account or for the account of central banks
- holding gold for its own account under reserve in central banks
- accepting the supervision of gold for the account of central banks
- making advances to or borrowing from central banks against gold, bills of exchange, and other short-term obligations of prime liquidity or other approved securities
- discounting, rediscounting, purchasing, or selling with or without its endorsement bills of exchange, checks, and other short-term obligations of prime liquidity
- buying and selling foreign exchange for its own account or for the account of central banks
- buying and selling negotiable securities other than shares for its own account or for the account of central banks
- discounting for central banks bills taken from their portfolio and rediscounting with central banks bills taken from its own portfolio
- opening and maintaining current or deposit accounts with central banks
- accepting deposits from central banks on current or deposit account
- accepting deposits in connection with trustee agreements that may be made between the BIS and governments in connection with international settlements.
- accepting such other deposits that, as in the opinion of the Board of the BIS, come within the scope of the BIS’ functions.13
The BIS also may,
- act as agent or correspondent for any central bank
- arrange with any central bank for the latter to act as its agent or correspondent
- enter into agreements to act as trustee or agent in connection with international settlements, provided that such agreements will not encroach on the obligations of the BIS toward any third parties.14
Why is “agency” an important issue?
Because any member of the network can obscure transactions from onlookers. For instance, if Brown Brothers, Harriman wanted to transfer money to a company in Nazi Germany during WWII (which was not “politically correct” at that time), they would first transfer the funds to the BIS thus putting the transaction under the cloak of secrecy and immunity that is enjoyed by the BIS but not by Brown Brothers, Harriman. (Such laundering of Wall Street money was painstakingly noted in Wall Street And The Rise of Hitler, by Antony C. Sutton.)
There are a few things that the BIS cannot do. For instance, it does not accept deposits from, or provide financial services to, private individuals or corporate entities. It is also not permitted to make advances to governments or open current accounts in their name.15 These restrictions are easily understood when one considers that each central bank has an exclusive franchise to loan money to their respective government. For instance, the U.S. Federal Reserve does not loan money to the government of Canada.
In like manner, central banks do not loan money directly to the private or corporate clients of their member banks.
How Decisions are Made
The 2017 board of directors consist of the heads of certain member central banks. Currently, these are:
The BIS Board of Directors
Chairman: Jens Weidmann, Frankfurt am Main
Mark Carney, London
Agustín Carstens, Mexico City
Andreas Dombret, Frankfurt am Main
Mario Draghi, Frankfurt am Main
William C Dudley, New York
Ilan Goldfajn, Brasília
Stefan Ingves, Stockholm
Thomas Jordan, Zurich
Klaas Knot, Amsterdam
Haruhiko Kuroda, Tokyo
Anne Le Lorier, Paris
Fabio Panetta, Rome
Urjit R Patel, Mumbai
Stephen S Poloz, Ottawa
Jan Smets, Brussels
François Villeroy de Galhau, Paris
Ignazio Visco, Rome
Pierre Wunsch, Brussels
Janet L Yellen, Washington
Zhou Xiaochuan, Beijing
Of these, five members (Canada, Japan, the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland) are currently elected by the shareholders. The majority of directors are “ex officio,” meaning they are permanent and are automatically a part of any sub-committee. The combined board meets at least six times per year, in secret, and is briefed by BIS management on financial operations of the bank. Global monetary policy is discussed and set at these meetings.
It was reported in 1983 that there is an inner club of the half dozen central bankers who are more or less in the same monetary boat: Germany, U.S., Switzerland, Italy, Japan and England.17 The existence of an inner club is neither surprising nor substantive: the whole BIS operation is 100% secret anyway. It is not likely that members of the inner club have significantly different beliefs or agendas apart from the BIS as a whole.
The inter-operation between the three entities is understandably confusing to most people, so a little clarification will help.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) interacts with governments whereas the BIS interacts only with other central banks. The IMF loans money to national governments, and often these countries are in some kind of fiscal or monetary crisis. Furthermore, the IMF raises money by receiving “quota” contributions from its 184 member countries. Even though the member countries may borrow money to make their quota contributions, it is, in reality, all tax-payer money.18
The World Bank also lends money and has 184 member countries. Within the World Bank are two separate entities, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the International Development Association (IDA). The IBRD focuses on middle income and credit-worthy poor countries, while the IDA focuses on the poorest of nations. In funding itself, the World Bank borrows money by direct lending from banks and by floating bond issues, and then loans this money through IBRD and IDA to troubled countries.19
The BIS, as central bank to the other central banks, facilitates the movement of money. They are well-known for issuing “bridge loans” to central banks in countries where IMF or World Bank money is pledged but has not yet been delivered. These bridge loans are then repaid by the respective governments when they receive the funds that had been promised by the IMF or World Bank.20
The IMF is the BIS’ “ace in the hole” when monetary crisis hits. The 1998 Brazil currency crisis was caused by that country’s inability to pay inordinate accumulated interest on loans made over a protracted period of time. These loans were extended by banks like Citigroup, J.P. Morgan Chase and FleetBoston, and they stood to lose a huge amount of money. The IMF, along with the World Bank and the U.S., bailed out Brazil with a $41.5 billion package that saved Brazil, its currency and, not incidentally, certain private banks.
Congressman Bernie Sanders (I-VT), ranking member of the International Monetary Policy and Trade Subcommittee, blew the whistle on this money laundry operation. Sander’s entire congressional press release is worth reading:
IMF Bailout for Brazil is Windfall to Banks, Disaster for US Taxpayers Says Sanders
BURLINGTON, VERMONT – August 15 – Congressman Bernard Sanders (I-VT), the Ranking Member of the International Monetary Policy and Trade Subcommittee, today called for an immediate Congressional investigation of the recent $30 billion International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout of Brazil.
Sanders, who is strongly opposed to the bailout and considers it corporate welfare, wants Congress to find out why U.S. taxpayers are being asked to provide billions of dollars to Brazil and how much of this money will be funneled to U.S. banks such as Citigroup, FleetBoston and J.P. Morgan Chase. These banks have about $25.6 billion in outstanding loans to Brazilian borrowers. U.S. taxpayers currently fund the IMF through a $37 billion line of credit.
“At a time when we have a $6 trillion national debt, a growing federal deficit, and an increasing number of unmet social needs for our veterans, seniors, and children, it is unacceptable that billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars are being sent to the IMF to bailout Brazil.”
“This money is not going to significantly help the poor people of that country. The real winners in this situation are the large, profitable U.S. banks such as Citigroup that have made billions of dollars in risky investments in Brazil and now want to make sure their investments are repaid.
This bailout represents an egregious form of corporate welfare that must be put to an end. Interestingly, these banks have made substantial campaign contributions to both political parties,” the Congressman added.
Sanders noted that the neo-liberal policies of the IMF developed in the 1980’s pushing countries towards unfettered free trade, privatization, and slashing social safety nets has been a disaster for Latin America and has contributed to increased global poverty throughout the world.
At the same time that Latin America countries such as Brazil and Argentina followed these neo-liberal dictates imposed by the IMF, from 1980-2000, per capita income in Latin America grew at only one-tenth the rate of the previous two decades.
“The policies of the IMF over the past 20 years advocating unfettered free trade, privatizing industry, deregulation and slashing government investments in health, education, and pensions has been a complete failure for low income and middle class families in the developing world and in the United States. Clearly, these policies have only helped corporations in their constant search for the cheapest labor and weakest environmental regulations. Congress must work on a new global policy that protects workers, increases living standards and improves the environment.”
One can surmise that a financial circle exists where the World Bank helps nations get into debt, then when these countries can’t pay their massive loans, the IMF bails them out with taxpayer money – and in the middle stands the BIS, collecting fees as the money travels back and forth like the ocean tide, while assuring everyone that all is well.
BIS dumps gold-backed Swiss Francs for SDR’s
On March 10, 2003, the BIS abandoned the Swiss gold franc as the bank’s unit of account since 1930, and replaced it with the SDR. SDR stands for Special Drawing Rights and is a unit of currency originally created by the IMF.
According to Baker,
“The SDR is an international reserve asset, created by the IMF in 1969 to supplement the existing official reserves of member countries. SDR’s are allocated to member countries in proportion to their IMF quotas. The SDR also serves as the unit of account of the IMF and some other international organizations. Its value is based on a basket of key international currencies.” 21
This “basket” currently consists of the euro, Japanese yen, pound sterling and the U.S. dollar. The BIS abandonment of the 1930 gold Swiss franc removed all restraint from the creation of paper money in the world. In other words, gold backs no national currency, leaving the central banks a wide-open field to create money as they alone see fit.
Remember, that almost all the central banks in the world are privately-held entities, with an exclusive franchise to arrange loans for their respective host countries.
Regional and Global Currencies: SDR’s, Euros and Ameros
There is no doubt that the BIS is moving the world toward regional currencies and ultimately, a global currency. The global currency could well be an evolution of the SDR, and may explain why the BIS recently adopted the SDR as its primary reserve currency.
The Brandt Equation, 21st Century Blueprint for the New Global Economy notes, for instance, that,
Since the SDR is the world’s only means of meeting international payments that has been authorized through international contract, “The SDR therefore represents a clear first step towards a stable and permanent international currency” 22
As to regional currencies, the BIS has already been hugely successful in launching the euro in Europe. Armed with new technical and social know-how, the BIS’ next logical step is to focus on America and