MOSCOW – The Bank of Russia bought more gold in the first quarter of 2019 than any other country, in an effort to reduce dependence on the US dollar, the World Gold Council (WGC) reported.
Russia was again the largest buyer adding 55.3 tons in the first quarter, so the total amount of gold reserves in the country is 2,168 tons (19% of total reserves), said the report.
The fourth consecutive year Russia increases its reserves with another 200 tons within the framework of its de-dollarization campaign, the document stresses.
China is also among the largest buyers, since it bought 33 tons of gold in the first quarter.
Countries have increased their gold reserves by 145.5 tons in the first quarter, 68% more than in the same period in 2018.
It was reported in January that Russia entered the top 5 of the countries with the largest reserves of gold in the world by acquiring 8.8 million ounces of this metal in 2018.
In general, in 2018 the Eurasian country increased its gold reserves by 14.9%, to 67.9 million ounces or about 2,112 tonnes, based on data published by the Central Bank of Russia.
According to Reuters , this achievement allowed Russia to unseat China from the fifth place in the list of countries with the highest gold reserves. In December 2018, the reserves of the Asian country reached 59.6 million ounces.
Currently Russia follows the USA, Germany, France and Italy in the list.
A source in the Russian gold industry, who preferred to remain anonymous, told Reuters that Western sanctions pushed the Russian Central Bank to increase its gold reserves.
According to the interlocutor of the agency, gold is the safest asset because it can not be frozen or blacklisted. In addition, Russia aims to “diversify” assets in US currency.
Previously the central bank of Russia reported that it significantly reduced its assets in dollars between June 2017 and the same month of 2018.
Russia is the third world producer of gold. In 2017 the Eurasian country increased the production of the precious metal by 6%.