At the end of 2022, the Croatian National Bank (CNB) bought a little more than a ton and a half of gold, making it the first time since 2001 that the central bank held this precious metal. However, the gold was very short on the balance sheet of the national bank and was immediately forwarded to Frankfurt, where the headquarters of the European Central Bank (ECB) is located, writes N1.
The information that the central bank bought a considerable amount of gold appeared on social networks in the past few days, more precisely it was published by the analyst of the World Gold Council, Krishan Gopaul. He wrote that the CNB bought "almost two tons of gold in December, and before that they had not held it since 2001".
The CNB manages Croatian foreign exchange reserves independently, and since joining the Eurozone on January 1 this year, the bank also participates in the management of part of the international reserves of the ECB, as well as all other central banks of the Eurozone member states.
The international reserves of the European Central Bank, by the way, serve to ensure the credibility of the European System of Central Banks (ESCB) and can be used for interventions on the foreign exchange market.
According to the capital key, the national central banks pay money against the existing balance of the ECB's international reserves, and this key dictates that 85 percent of the amount is transferred in US dollars and 15 percent in gold.
The CNB was supposed to transfer 639.9 million euros to the ECB, that is, 580.1 million in US dollars and 96 million euro worth of gold, which the central bank did not have at that time.
"The transfer of gold, 15 percent of the amount of 639.9 million euros, at the exchange rate of December 30, 2022, amounted to 96 million euros. For the purpose of transferring gold, in December 2022, the Croatian National Bank acquired an adequate amount of the so-called of unallocated gold (without physical transport to Croatia). The actual transfer of foreign exchange reserves to the ECB, i.e. the settlement date of the transaction, was January 3, 2023. Based on the transfer of part of the international reserves to the European Central Bank, the CNB retains the same amount of receivables from the ECB in its balance sheet on the asset side," stated the CNB.
In other words, since the CNB had no gold "in stock", it bought it on the free market and transferred it to the ECB's accounts.
Croatian gold reserves, which were inherited from Yugoslavia, were often the subject of heated political debates, and their fate was revealed in 2015 when asked by the then member of parliament, Goran Marić. By September 2001, Croatia had 13.12 tons of gold, and the CNB under Željko Rohatinski sold it for $272 per ounce and earned $115 million. If 13 tons of gold from the Yugoslavia era had been kept until today, it would be worth about 830 million dollars.