First it was Germany, now another AAA-rated European country is starting to get concerned about its hard assets.
Overnight Bloomberg reported that following in Bundesbank's footsteps, Austria will audit its gold reserves located in the UK, which represent 80% of its total gold holdings. This gold reserve reviews held at Bank of England in London will be first conducted by external auditors, Christian Gutleder, a spokesman for the Austrian central bank, says via telephone.
As a reminder, Austria held 80% of its roughly 280 tons of gold in U.K., according to last annual report.
Gutleder explained that the Central bank has checked its reserves regularly in the past, adding that gold reserves haven’t changed since 2007. Which begs the question: why check them now then?
According to the official explanation that review comes after euro-skeptic Freedom Party demanded more transparency, repatriation of reserves. Perhaps it is time to rename the Euroskeptic party into the "we doubt our gold is where you say it is" skeptics. A better explanation was provided by the Austrian Trend magazine, which said that "the measure is seen as a consequence of growing public pressure. There is a rising disbelief among Austrians about the existence of the gold."
Joking aside, with Euroskeptics across Europe ascendent, we wonder which central European nation will be the first to uncover that its gold is no longer where it is supposed to be (that most certainly includes the Banque de France).
Some more color from Goldreporter.de:
Austria is planning to send auditors to the Bank of England in order to verify the existence of Austrias gold reserves stored in british vaults.
The Austrian accountability office will sent a delegation to London in order to check on Austrias gold reserves stored in vaults at the Bank of England. This is reported by Austrian magazine Trend. The measure is seen as a consequence of growing public pressure. There is a rising disbelief among Austrians about the existence of the gold.
“I acknowledge the request. Any grocery store is obliged to do inventory once a year. It is the only way of getting rid of these unreasonable allegations”, Ewald Nowotny, Governor of the National Bank of Austria tells Trend.
Austria officially owns 280 tonnes of gold of which 17 percent are kept in vaults inside the country. Around 150 tonnes are estimated to be stored in London.
In recent years doubts about the existence and the quality of Germanys monetary gold stored at the New York Fed and the Bank of England were raised by a rising number of skeptics. In January the Bundesbank eventually announced plans to repatriate most of Gemanys gold reserves until 2020.
So first Germany (which at this rate may repatriate its gold held in New York, London and Paris some time in the year 3000, now Austria... Who's next to confirm that all those doubts about infinite rehypothecation of physical gold with countless beneficiaries of paper receivables will be the next conspiracy theory to become conspiracy fact, after last week's surprising announcement that Barclays (the first of many) had manipulated paper gold prices on at least one occasions in the past decade.