The question of whether an investor in GLD owns rights to gold bullion held for shareholders of GLD is relevant. In an old post I asked the question to myself, should I stay or should I go as an owner of GLD shares then. I came to the conclusion that the water is too murky for me to see through and that was perhaps done by design. It is not necessary to be so opaque though and I suspected the big-bank custodians might be being less than honest by providing the appearance of access to bullion for retail investors. I raise this topic still again to point to a legal review of the question initiated by Catherine Austin Fitts. She is an attorney with securities background who hired her attorney to work with her and others to get to the bottom of the question. One paragraph from the summary of their paper, GLD and SLV - Disclosure in the Precious Metals Puzzle Palace, does a great job of describing what I suspected but could not document, as they have.
They wrote: "As we outlined above in the section on exchange traded funds, many of
the ETF risks are disclosed in their prospectuses and in the Trust
documents filed with the SEC that are available to investors if they
look hard enough on the SEC’s EDGAR site. However, we think the
complexity of the structure of these funds and the extent of their
departure from the usual and expected duties to shareholders make much
of the disclosure too complex for the average investor to understand at
best and misleading even to experts at worst. We remind readers that
market investors thought they understood mortgage-backed securities like
CDOs before the financial and housing crises of 2007 and 2008. Since
that time, we are assured that few understood what they were getting
This paper is easy to read and is thoroughly documented. Recommended.