Germany’s Bundesbank is to bring home almost 700 tonnes of gold, worth 27 billion euros, from vaults in New York and Paris.
Germany has the second highest gold reserves in the world, after the United States, but keeps just a a third of it on home soil. The majority is stored in vaults in Paris, New York and London.
The bars were originally squirreled away to the west during the Cold War to keep them safe in case of Soviet invasion.
Central banks often store gold abroad as a ready source of currency in case of a time of financial crisis.
The central bank will now be withdrawing all of its gold from Paris – 374 tons in all – as France also uses the euro. It will also take 300 tons out of New York.
It will not touch its reserves in London, although the Bundesbank did already ship around 850 tons of gold from London to Frankfurt between 1998 and 2001.
Despite having such a large amount of gold – 3,396 metric tons worth around 150 billion euros – Germany only started building up its reserves in 1951.
Using income from taxes it paid 2.5 million deutschmarks for 529 kilograms in October of that year and has built it up gradually since then through taxes and accepting gold as payment on trade surpluses.
Shipping such a large amount of the precious metal will be a great security challenge. To avoid losing any in a heist there is a top-secret plan to move the gold to the Bundesbank in in Germany’s financial centre over the next eight years.
Carl-Ludwig Thiele of Bundesbank declined to say how the transfer would be accomplished or to estimate the cost. What he said though, was that the Bundesbank had plenty of experience in the field of moving large sums of money.