July 25, 2019 / 3:25 PM / a month ago

Italian central bank sitting on potentially huge gold profit - study

FILE PHOTO: Banca D'Italia (Bank of Italy) sign is seen in downtown Rome, Italy, October 19, 2018. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

MILAN (Reuters) - The Bank of Italy was sitting on a potential capital gain of 68.9 billion euros (£61.4 billion) if it had sold its gold reserves at the end of last year, the research department of Mediobanca said in a report on Thursday.

The Bank of Italy holds 2,452 tonnes of gold, the fourth largest reserves in the world after the U.S. Federal Reserve which holds 8,133 tonnes, Germany’s Bundesbank (3,370 tonnes) and the International Monetary Fund (2,814 tonnes).

At the end of 2018 gold traded at around $1,277.35 per ounce. It is now trading at around $1,417.20.

In February, Italy’s co-ruling League party tabled a bill intended to establish that the gold was the property of the state, rather than of the Bank of Italy where the metal is held, a point which is disputed in Italy.

The League’s economics spokesman Claudio Borghi has denied suggestions from opposition critics that his party wanted to sell the reserves to fix Italy’s public finance problems.

“We do not want to sell a gram,” Borghi said in February. He added that his party wanted simply to clarify the legal ownership of the gold and bring Italy’s situation into line with those of other EU states.

Reporting by Gianluca Semeraro; Editing by Susan Fenton

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