On Wednesday Jan. 16, 2013, Germany's Central Bank at their headquarters in Frankfurt announce that they will bring back home some US $36 billion ( 27 billion euro) worth of gold stored in the United States and France.
The Bundesbank said that it will repatriate all 374 tons of gold it had stored in Paris by 2020. An additional 300 tons - equivalent to 8 percent of the Bundesbank's total reserves worth about US $183 billion will also be shipped from New York to Frankfurt. Frankfurt will hold half of Germany's 3,400 tons of gold by 2020, with New York retaining 37 percent and London storing 13 percent.
For obvious reasons, the central bank won't say whether the estimated 50,000 bars are being moved by air, sea or land or how it intends to keep the shipments safe.
"For security reasons we can't discuss that, partly to protect the gold, partly to protect the staff that will be carrying out the transfer," said Bundesbank spokesman Moritz August Raasch.
"But, of course, since we transport large sums of money around Germany every day, we've got a certain amount of experience with this."
The Bundesbank, which also brought home about 850 tons of gold from London between 1998 and 2001, isn't taking any chances. "Of course the transports are insured," Raasch said.
The cargo unit of Lufthansa, Germany's biggest airline, is standing by, ready to handle the job if the central bank calls, spokesman Michael Goentgens said.
"We have specific containers for such cargo, then teams accompanying the cargo until the plane's loaded and ready to take off, then people waiting where the plane lands," he said.
"Overall it must be said that the transport over land is the riskiest part. Flying is safer than driving, and an airport is already a heavily secured area."
Zorica Obrovac, of the German company SG Security GmbH, which moves precious cargo in armored cars with armed protection, said: "If it were such a high-value cargo as tons of gold, I would obviously split it in several shipments. And the key is not to tell anyone, the fewest people possible in the company that orders the shipment."
The decision to bring some of the gold back home also follows criticism last year from Germany's independent Federal Auditors' Office, which concluded that the central bank failed to properly oversee its reserves. The auditor suggested the bank carry out regular inspections of gold stored abroad.
The auditors' report stunned Germany, where the Bundesbank routinely tops polls of the nation's most trusted institutions, and politicians pushed for the gold to come home.
The central bank defended itself by saying, "There is no doubt about the integrity of the foreign storage sites."
The New York Federal Reserve's gold vault, for example, is about 80 feet below street level in lower Manhattan, its only entry protected by a 90-ton steel cylinder 9 feet high. The New York Fed imposes a handling fee when gold enters or leaves the vault but does not otherwise charge account holders for storing their gold.