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‘Bank of England helped Nazis sell gold ahead of World War II’

UK’s central bank helped Nazis sell gold plundered from Czechoslovakia months before the outbreak of the second World War, according to the apex bank’s official history.
The official history of the Bank of England, written in 1950 but posted online for the first time on Tuesday, detailed how the ‘Old Lady’ transfered gold held in its vaults to the Germans despite UK government of the day placing a freeze on all Czech assets held in London. In the history, the Bank of England insists its role in the episode was ‘widely misunderstood’, even though it ‘still rankled for some time’, The Telegraph reported.

The Nazis invaded Czechoslovakia in September 1938. In March the following year, the Bank of International Settlements (BIS) asked Bank of England to switch 5.6 million pounds-worth of gold from an account for the Czech national bank to one belonging to the Reichsbank.

Much of the gold, nearly 2,000 bars, was then ‘disposed’ of in Belgium, Holland and London. The BIS was chaired at the time by Bank of England director, German Otto Niemeyer. UK Central Bank also sold gold for the Nazis in June 1939, without waiting for approval from Westminster.

‘There was a further gold transaction on 1 June, 1939, when there were sales of gold (440,000 pounds) and gold shipments to New York (420,000 pounds) from the No.19 account of the BIS,’ the banks history says.

‘This represented gold which had been shipped to London by the Reichsbank. This time, before acting, the Bank of England referred the matter to the chancellor, who said he would like the opinion of the law officers of the Crown,’ it added.
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