Germany’s central bank completed Wednesday its plan to bring back home 54,000 gold bars it had in vaults located in New York and Paris to beneath its Frankfurt headquarters, three years ahead of schedule.
The Bundesbank, one of the world’s top bullion holders, secretly repatriated 674 tonnes from the vaults of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and Banque de France, the French central bank, over the past four years in one of the biggest operations of its type.
Each of the 53,780 bars weighs 12.5kg and is worth about $520,000 (€440,000). In total, the haul is worth €23.7 billion ($28bn) and its arrival means that just over half of all Bundesbank gold is now stored in its own vaults in Frankfurt.
The lender said it “thoroughly and exhaustively” tested all of the bars after they arrived back in Frankfurt and “no irregularities came to light with regard to the authenticity, fineness or weight of the bars.”
Germany began building most of its gold holdings in the 1950s, when trade surpluses were exchanged for gold under the Bretton Woods system that linked the US dollar to the precious metal. That led to a build-up of gold in vaults overseas, especially in New York, under the Federal Reserve.
During the Cold War the Bundesbank wanted to keep its gold in the west in case of an invasion from the Soviet Union.
But at the height of the Eurozone crisis in 2012, the German public grew uneasy about keeping their gold abroad and the central bank yield to pressure began shipping its gold back.
Not all of the Bundesbank gold reserves are now in Germany. A big chunk — 1,236 tonnes — will remain in New York indefinitely, the bank said. A smaller portion, 432 tonnes, will be held at the Bank of England, in London.