Central Banks

Germany’s central bank just shifted 50,000 gold bars held overseas due to Cold War fears

Key Points
  • Germany's central bank completes transfer of $27.9 billion worth of gold bars back to Frankfurt.
  • A total of 53,780 bars were being held by the Federal Reserve in New York and France's central bank to hedge against political and currency risks.
  • The transfer was completed three years ahead of expectations.
Germany's central bank just shifted 50,000 gold bars held overseas due to Cold War fears

Germany's central bank has successfully moved $27.9 billion worth of gold bars from New York and Paris to Frankfurt in a Hollywood-style transfer.

The Bundesbank announced Wednesday that it had shipped the last of the gold it had been storing at France's central bank, Banque de France, in Paris, completing the final stage of a four-year operation ahead of schedule.

The procedure, one of the largest of its kind, was expected to complete in 2020. Cold War fears that the gold could fall into Soviet hands was just one of the reasons the precious metal was stored overseas. The gold stored in Paris was held to be converted into francs in the case of an emergency but now both countries share the same currency.

Germany's Bundesbank had been storing 674 tonnes of gold bars at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and Banque de France but initiated a plan in 2013 to return the bars to Frankfurt.

Bundesbank the headquarters of the German Federal Bank
Spiegl | ullstein bild | Getty Images

The lot of 53,780 bars, each weighing 27.5lbs and worth $519,000, will now reside in vaults beneath the bank's headquarters.

When contacted by CNBC the Bundesbank would not provide any details on the means of transfer for security reasons.

However, the central bank praised the success of the operation.

It said each of the bars had been "thoroughly and exhaustively" tested on arrival in Frankfurt and "no irregularities came to light with regard to the authenticity."

Germany is one of the biggest gold holders in the world. Following the transfers, just over 50 percent of its reserves are stored in Frankfurt. The remainder is split between the U.S. and Britain, with 36.6 percent at the Federal Reserve and 12.8 percent at the Bank of England in London. Should Germany face an economic emergency, the gold can be converted into pounds or dollars.

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