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'Gold Cartel’ Losing, Price to Top $3,000: Association

The price of goldcould almost double as central banks' reserves are depleted, according to the chairman of a gold industry association.

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"You could see $3,000 to 5,000 to clear the market as the central banks and bullion banks run out of gold to meet the growing demand," Bill Murphy, chairman of the Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee (GATA), which is hosting a conference in London this week, told CNBC Thursday.

"Six years ago when gold was at $436 we predicted that this would happen."

GATA is backed by gold traders and investors.

Murphy, and GATA, believe that the gold market has been manipulated by bullion banks and central banks like the Federal Reserve and the Bank of England, as well as the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Not everyone agrees with their theory.

"The notion that central banks are really in control of any asset price, including gold, is probably not really very well founded," Jens Larsen, chief European economist at RBC Capital Markets, who used to work at both the Bank of England and the IMF, told CNBC Thursday.

"The gold price is one of the hardest asset prices to get a handle on," said Larsen.

Mark Bristow, chief executive of gold company Randgold Resources, which announced a 253 percent rise in second-quarter profits Thursday amid the rapidly rising gold price, told CNBC: "There are a lot of things driving the gold price today. One of them is fear; another is increasing demand from Asia. Our industry is ex-growth, so we are not producing a lot more, so everything is in line for the gold price right now."

Larsen pointed out that the Bank of England was pressurized by the Treasury to sell off more than half of the country's gold reserves between 1999 and 2002, when gold was a fraction of its current price.

Murphy spoke of a "gold cartel" and claimed that the sell-off came because Goldman Sachs and the Bank of England wanted to drive the price of gold down.

"If you want the best price for your gold, you don't tell the world in advance what you are doing," he said. In London, where the Bank of England and the London Bullion Market Association are based, GATA was "in the belly of the beast," he added.

"They're losing control of the price," Murphy said, claiming that GATA predicted the recent record run in the price of gold, which hit $1,672.65 earlier this week. "When we started (in 1999), we said that the central banks were flooding the market with gold."

Central banks in South Korea, Thailand and even debt-laden Greece have added to their gold reserves recently.