ECONOMY

Bank of Greece sells 20 tons of gold

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – The Bank of Greece appears to be the eurozone national central bank that sold 20 tons of gold last week. The European Central Bank (ECB) announced yesterday that the sale was conducted by a central bank that has not signed the 1999 Gold Agreement which limits the sale of gold holdings by central banks to protect market prices. Greece is the only eurozone country that is not a signatory. The Greek central bank was not immediately available for comment. The joint gold holdings of the ECB and the central banks that have adopted the euro decreased by 208 million euros in the week ending August 22, due to the sale of 20 tons of gold by a central bank to stand at 119.785 billion euros. In January 2003, the Greek central bank had 122 tons of gold. The ECB in its weekly financial statement refrained from saying the gold sale was in line with the Gold Agreement, as it usually does. A spokesman said the ECB had omitted the sentence because the sale was by a central bank that had not signed the agreement. The agreement expires next year but central bankers have indicated that they are willing to negotiate a new version of the Gold Agreement, which now limits sales to 400 tons a year. Most signatories of the agreement have embarked on gold sales, as bullion is a reserve that barely yields interest nor is it suited for foreign exchange market intervention.