The Dutch do what the Germans couldn't: Get their gold back

The Dutch central bank has secretly brought a large chunk of the European nation's gold reserves held in New York back to Amsterdam.

In total, 120 tonnes of gold valued worth nearly $5 billion were brought back to the Netherlands by ship in what according to some accounts resembled a military operation carried out over months.

The central bank decided to bring some of its gold reserves back to the Dutch capital to ensure a more even spread of bullion, the bank said in a statement.

De Nederlandsche Bank said it has changed its allocation policy from 11% in Amsterdam and 51% at the Federal Reserve in New York, 20% in Canada and 18% at the Bank Of England to an equal 31% shares between the DNB and the Fed. The Ottawa and London holdings are unaffected.

According to the World Gold Council’s latest data the Netherlands has 612.5 tonnes of official gold reserves (roughly 50% of total reserves), worth some $23.5 billion.

The Dutch seems to have been much more successful in their attempts to repatriate bullion held in New York than the Germans, which has reserves of 3,387 tonnes, second only to the United States.

In January 2013 Germany's central bank, the Bundesbank, said it will ship back home all 374 tonnes it had stored with the Banque de France in Paris, as well as 300 tonnes held in Manhattan by the US Federal Reserve, by 2020.

Fast forward 18 months and Buba, as the Federal Bank of Germany is often called, only managed to bring home a paltry 37 tonnes of gold, a mere 5 tonnes of that came from the US, the rest from Paris.

Then in June the ruling Christian Democratic Party headed by Angela Merkel, seemed to give up on the endeavour altogether, removing a possible irritant in US-German relations.

In May last year Austria, perhaps unnerved by Germany's experience with their bullion and mindful of Brown's Bottom, sent a team of auditors to check on gold held by the Bank of England.

Only 17% of Austria's 280 tonnes of gold reserves are held inside the European nation with the Bank of England holding the bulk or some 150 tonnes worth more than $6.2 billion.

In November 2011, Venezuela repatriated some 180 tonnes of gold held in vaults in London and elsewhere to store it with the Caracas central bank under orders from late President Hugo Chavez.

Image of Vincent van Gogh in Arles today by Hank Conner