World Economy

Austria Wants UK to Return Its Gold

Austria Wants UK to Return Its GoldAustria Wants UK to Return Its Gold

Austria has unveiled plans to repatriate billions of dollars’ worth of its gold reserves back from the UK, becoming the latest country keen to bring its gold home, CNBC reported.

The Austrian central bank currently has 280 tons of gold reserves, worth around $10 billion at current prices. Just 17 percent of these holdings are kept in Austria, with 3 percent in Switzerland and the vast majority -- 80 percent -- in the United Kingdom.

By 2020, however, Austria wants to hold 50 percent of its reserves in Austria, 20 percent in Switzerland and just 30 percent in London. This means moving gold worth $5 billion from the Bank of England across Europe.

The bank, which revealed the plans in a statement accompanying its annual report on Thursday, did not explain how it would ship the gold, but said: “Starting from mid-2015, the new storage policy will be gradually implemented in keeping with security and logistical requirements.” It comes after the country’s Court of Audit in February warned that holding so much of its reserves in one place – the Bank of England – “ran a high concentration risk.”

  Brexit Fears?

There has also been speculation that the decision to move gold away from the UK could be related to the risk of Britain exiting the European Union – known as a “Brexit.”

British Prime Minister, David Cameron – who won a general election in the country earlier this month – has promised an in-out referendum by 2017, and the related uncertainty has spooked markets.

However, Austrian Central Bank Governor, Ewald Nowotny, insisted on Thursday that the decision to shift the country’s gold reserves was “absolutely not” related to the possibility of a Brexit, Reuters reported.