German court orders Bundesbank to audit gold reserves

Gold barsIn a bizarre twist in the Eurozone crisis, German politicians are now questioning the authenticity of the Bundesbank gold reserves abroad. In response, the German government may initiate the largest 'cash for gold' deal ever seen.%VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%
This week the German Audit Court issued a report stating that the country's central bank must begin a major stocktaking exercise of its gold holdings around the world. According to the report, there has never been a thorough "assessment" to evaluate the true worth of the gold kept in the various central bank's around the globe.

Of the 3,396 tonnes of gold the Bundesbank manages, worth £116bn, is not all kept in Frankfurt as during the Cold War, the gold was spread across other countries in case of a Soviet attack. Roughly 66% is held at the New York Federal Reserve, 21% at the Bank of England, and 8% at the Bank of France.
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The controversy was sparked after various German politicians began raising questions in the Bundestag over rumours that some gold could be missing or had been replaced by certificates. Requests from politicians and journalists to actually visit the vaults in Frankfurt have been stalled, with claims that this would breach security. However in New York, the Fed often opens its doors to tourists to take tours of the gold vaults. The Bundesbank's reticence on transparency has only exacerbated the conspiracy theories.

In a statement the bank says: "The Bundesbank and the Federal Court of Auditors have different opinions" on this matter but has said it will ask for 150 tonnes of gold to be brought back from the US reserves over the next three years for verification and assessment.

The timing of this dispute ties in with a crucial visit tomorrow by the president of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi, where he will address the Bundestag. He will face fierce opposition to his proposals to increase bond-buying across the Eurozone, where one member of the German parliament has called him "Europe's forger".

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