The Bundesbank will repatriate 674 metric tons of gold from vaults in Paris and New York by 2020 to restore public confidence in the safety of Germany’s reserves.
The phased relocation of the gold, currently worth about 27 billion euros ($36 billion), will begin this year and result in half of Germany’s reserves being stored in Frankfurt by the end of the decade, the Bundesbank said in a statement today. It will bring home all 374 tons of its gold held at the Banque de France and a further 300 tons from the New York Federal Reserve, it said. Holdings at the Bank of England will remain unchanged.
“With this new storage plan, the Bundesbank is focusing on the two primary functions of the gold reserves: to build trust and confidence domestically, and the ability to exchange gold for foreign currencies at gold trading centers abroad within a short space of time,” the Bundesbank said. It said the complete withdrawal of reserves from Paris reflects the fact that Germany no longer depends on France as a financial center to exchange gold because both nations use the euro.
Germany’s Audit Court sparked a debate about the country’s gold reserves last year when it called on the Bundesbank to take stock of its holdings abroad, saying their existence had never been verified. German gold reserves, the second-largest in the world after the U.S., amounted to 3,391 tons as of Dec. 31 and were valued at 137.5 billion euros.
‘A Lot of Emotion’
“In Germany, a lot of emotion is attached to the topic of gold reserves,” Bundesbank board member Carl-Ludwig Thiele said at a press conference in Frankfurt. “The Bundesbank has managed the gold reserves with great caution and will continue to do so.”
The Bundesbank is negotiating auditing rights with its partner central banks. Thiele said he visited all storage locations last year and the returning gold will be examined. He declined to comment on the cost of the transfers, saying only it is “economically tolerable for the Bundesbank.”
While German gold is stored for free in New York and Paris, the Bank of England charges between 500,000 euros and 550,000 euros a year.
Thiele said the decision to repatriate all German gold from Paris “won’t cause any diplomatic problems” and that Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann and his French counterpart Christian Noyer had discussed the decision.