FAQs - Vaulting

Who are Via Mat and Brink's ?

Via Mat and Brink's are independent professional bullion market vault operators and LBMA security transport companies. They have been selected by BullionVault to look after BullionVault gold and silver.

Via Mat operates widely in North and South America, Europe and the Far East.  In their home country of Switzerland they dominate the business of physical assets custody and transportation.  They are the trusted carrier of Swiss banknotes, as they travel between the central bank and the various branches of the Swiss banking industry.

You can learn more about Via Mat from their own website.  Here are direct links to their London, Zurich and New York location webpages.

Based in Richmond, Virginia, Brink’s is a global leader in security-related services for banks, retailers and a variety of other commercial and governmental customers.  Services include armoured car transportation, money processing, long-distance transport of valuables, vaulting and other value-added solutions.  They employ about 70,000 people who serve customers in more than 100 countries.

You can learn more about Brink’s from their own website.

Your gold and silver is protected by BullionVault's vault operators' extensive physical security measures, and by externally underwritten insurance.  It would be impossible for any private store of bullion to be so thoroughly secured, and then insured at such low cost (included within your custody charge).

Can you prove my bullion is in the vault ?

Yes. Our vault operators send us bar lists evidencing what they hold in the vault for BullionVault.  These lists detail the individual bars in our section of the vaults, and their assayed gold or silver content. 

Every business day we publish these bar lists on the BullionVault website, and we also publish our custody lists daily - but with alias names which users can recognise for themselves while they remain completely useless and meaningless to everyone else.

You can see your own holding, check our totals, and cross check the custody list totals directly to the bar lists.  All this is on the publicly accessible 'DAILY AUDIT' page. You can view it right now.  Click here for details of the procedure.

The DAILY AUDIT page is also accessible via RSS, allowing you and any member of the public to complete an easily automated check of the customer by customer figures it lists every day of the year.

What stops BullionVault itself removing my bullion?

Someone has to have authority to instruct the vault operators on what to do with your bullion, and BullionVault's management has that authority.  So you should be rightfully concerned that controls exist to prevent a dishonest BullionVault manager from authorising a removal of gold or silver from the vault.

There are careful controls on this which you will quickly see eliminate the possibility.

There are two set of controls - Public and Private.  Public controls exist to make the process of bullion withdrawal extremely transparent.  This is how it works.

  1. BullionVault must give one day's notice of a bullion withdrawal to the vault operator and publish conspicuously on the BullionVault website's front page that a withdrawal is occurring.  This publication will state the withdrawing user's alias. 
    Now every BullionVault user can see that the gold being withdrawn is not theirs, and anyone who wants to check can also see - via the Daily Audit - that the withdrawer owns sufficient gold or silver to make the withdrawal.
  2. The vault operators check these things too.  In the storage agreement executed between us and each vault operator, they have undertaken to abort the withdrawal if these checks are not satisfied.
  3. As an extra safety precaution - and again as part of the storage agreement - the vault operators have undertaken to limit the total withdrawal from the vault to 5% of the vaulted total on any one day.  This restriction excludes vault-to-vault shipments, so BullionVault retains the ability to ship large quantities of bullion internationally if some form of international crisis has caused many customers to want to do this.

Private controls are kept secret.  They require, among other things, authorisation checks and acknowledgements by multiple individuals in multiple organisations, which make it impossible for a withdrawal to be authorized by a rogue employee.

Is my bullion insured ?

Yes.  And because of their excellent records and highly secure infrastructure our vault operators able to cover themselves at extraordinarily low cost - far lower than you could ever get for gold or silver held in private custody.  You get the benefit of this.

BullionVault is responsible for ensuring that the cover maintained by each vault operator is at least equivalent to the value of all the gold or silver that the vault operator holds on behalf of BullionVault Clients. 

BullionVault is entitled to demand cover up to 50% in excess of the prevailing market value of the gold or silver, and to have the cover in place within 24 hours.

We are also entitled to receive documentary evidence of that cover, which we are allowed to publish on the BullionVault website for viewing by parties benefiting from the protection it provides.

If you are logged in the evidence of insurance is available for viewing.

The cost of this insurance is included in your annual custody charge of 0.12% for gold or 0.48% for silver

Are Via Mat or Brink's associated with BullionVault ?

No. Via Mat and Brink's are service providers to BullionVault and BullionVault is their customer.  The management and the capital of the businesses are entirely separate and independent of each other. 

This is as it should be because it means we have no influence over the production of bar lists, against which we prove your bullion ownership - every day. 

As entirely independent companies Via Mat and Brink's obviously do not endorse the BullionVault way of buying and storing gold and silver, or in any way give BullionVault special treatment or services prejudicial to its other commercial customers, who also store bullion in their professional market vaults.

But the vault operators do accept responsibility for the professional custodianship of the physical bullion bars described in its bar lists.

Via Mat International Ltd has warranted to BullionVault that "by its own capabilities in London, and through VM Group companies in Switzerland and the USA it is competent to supply the receipt, collection, transportation, storage, insurance and onward delivery services relating to gold bullion according to the generally accepted standards of the bullion markets in London, Zurich and New York".

Brink’s Global Services Ltd has warranted to BullionVault that "by its own capabilities in London, and through Brink’s Group Companies in other Locations it is competent to supply the receipt, storage, insurance and onward delivery services relating to gold and silver Bullion according to generally accepted standards of the Bullion markets in the vicinity of each Location".

BullionVault and its users have a right to expect both Via Mat and Brink's to perform their bullion custodian roles with due care and professionalism.

Do the vault operators warrant bullion bar quality themselves ?

No.  A gold bar or silver delivered to the vault operators by the local bullion market is trusted because of its status as 'Good Delivery'.  Its chain of integrity assigns responsibility back through continuous professional vault storage, and the ultimate responsibility for bar quality rests with the introducer of the bar into the chain.

This trust may be audited by both bullion market officials and the bar's owner.  Under its agreement with each vault operator, BullionVault has the right to send in an independent official assayer at 48 hours' notice.  This assayer will be accompanied in the vault and will perform a range of tests on the actual bars which re-affirm with great reliability their true gold or silver content.

If the content of a bar fails to match the published assay on the list (an event of extreme improbability) this is not deemed a failing of the vault operator but a failing in the chain of integrity, and BullionVault (not the vault operator) accepts responsibility.  However BullionVault relies on the integrity of its bullion market suppliers, and on their mutual dependence on chains of integrity.  Everyone involved is powerfully motivated by their own reputation, the reputation of the local market, and all the way back to the reputation of the refiner, to resolve such a circumstance without loss to a user of the bullion market like BullionVault.  Only if this chain were to fail to redeem any substandard bar would BullionVault's own guarantee and capital resources be required to protect BullionVault users.

In the extremely unlikely event of a rogue good delivery bar being found to circulate as good delivery, and of the chain of integrity being an insufficient protection, the capital of BullionVault is easily able to absorb the loss.

How does the bullion get to the vault after I buy ?

Gold or silver purchaed via the BullionVault order board was already in the vault when you bought it so no shipment of bullion is required to settle your purchase. 

You can only offer your money to buy bullion when you have wired funds into the BullionVault client account.  In the same way sellers on BullionVault are only allowed to offer bullion on the order board when it is already safely secured in the vault.

This dramatically reduces the settlement cost and is a key contributor to the very low trading charges on BullionVault.  Delivery is usually paid only once, as bullion is originally bought and delivered into the vault by a BullionVault purchase on its own account.  Thereafter the bullion may change owners many times without moving.

For certain purchases, such as those at the official daily price, we normally settle the bullion to your account after two working days.  This reflects the time required for us to receive delivery of bullion to the vault from the main markets, if needed.

Read more about how bullion gets into the vault here.

Is my bullion held in a trust ?

Within BullionVault your bullion is your outright property

We are very specific about this.  We disassociate BullionVault from unallocated bullion accounts.  BullionVault stores your physical gold and silver bullion.

But aside from unallocated accounts bullion ownership schemes frequently abstract your ownership by placing a formal trust between you and the bullion. This mechanism would vest legal title in the trust, and you would become a beneficiary of the trust.  You would then need to develop an unhealthy interest in trust deeds to understand your position.  At any rate you would not personally own the bullion.

BullionVault does not do that.  Under our Terms and Conditions you employ BullionVault as your agent and impose on us a formal and legal duty of care in arranging the storage of your bullion.  In the modern world this is an uncommon ownership arrangement which we invite you to read about in detail in our FAQs under the subject of bailments

We believe direct personal ownership combined with a professional custodian is the optimal bullion storage solution in terms of costs, transparency and security.

Why is my bullion not stored in a bank ?

This is one of the commonest questions asked by our customers.  You are invited to read the surprising answer in our Safety FAQs here.


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