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Germany is bringing home gold that has been in exile since the beginning of the Cold War. Frank Rumpenhorst / AFP
Germany is bringing home gold that has been in exile since the beginning of the Cold War. Frank Rumpenhorst / AFP

Germany's Bundesbank to bring back 700 tonnes of gold

Germany is transferring gold bars worth US$36 billion (Dh132.22bn) from Paris and New York to its vaults in Frankfurt.

It's enough to get Charlie Croker and his gang frothing at the mouth in anticipation.

In a move that sounds like the basis of a plot line for The Italian Job, Germany is transferring gold bars worth US$36 billion (Dh132.22bn) from Paris and New York to its vaults in Frankfurt.

But if Charlie and his cronies wanted to get their hands on it, they would need more than the minis and bus they used in the classic 1969 heist movie starring Michael Caine - the shipment weighs in at almost 700 tonnes.

The decision is part of an effort by Germany's central bank to bring much of its gold home after keeping it outside the country for safekeeping during the Cold War.

Shipping such a valuable cargo between countries could be a serious security headache. A gold robbery would be embarrassing and expensive for Germany.

The high-stakes, high-security plan is to move the precious metal - 374 tonnes kept in vaults in Paris and 300 tonnes stored at the New York Federal Reserve Bank - to the Bundesbank over the next eight years.

Unsurprisingly, the central bank does not want to give the Charlie Crokers of the world any help and will not 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 Moritz August Raasch, a Bundesbank spokesman.

"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 cargo unit of Lufthansa, Germany's biggest airline, is standing by, ready to handle the job if the central bank calls, its spokesman Michael Goentgens said.

"Overall transport over land is the riskiest part. Flying is safer than driving," he said.

Still, with such a prize in transit, Charlie might well be again thinking: "Hang on a minute lads, I've had a great idea "

* with AP

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