After growing public pressure among Austrians who have been sceptical about the continued existence of their country's gold reserves at the London bank, Austrian National Bank governor Ewald Nowotny confirmed at the end of May that an audit would take place.
"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,” said Nowotny.
The web site Goldreporter.de states that Austria officially owns 280 metric tonnes of gold, of which 17 percent – 48.7 tonnes – are kept in the country. According to a parliamentary request, the Austrian National Bank disclosed that 224.4 tonnes are in the UK – representing 80 percent of reserves – while 6.9 tonnes are in Switzerland – around three percent.
In recent years, a rising number of sceptics have expressed concern about the continued existence of European gold deposits, especially those belonging to Germany that were being held by the US Federal Reserve.
In 2013, Germany announced that it intended to repatriate the majority of its international gold reserves, held mostly by the US, but also by London and Paris. While Paris cooperated, the American Federal Reserve stone-walled the request, forcing Germany to abandon the attempt in June of this year.
Similar concerns forced Austria to conduct its own audit. When contacted on Monday by The Local, Austrian National Bank press spokesman Dr Christian Gutlederer confirmed that the audit had taken place, but refused to comment on the results.