U.S. Markets

Economy Minister Tria says only ECB can use Italy's gold

Italian Economy Minister Giovanni Tria attends a final vote on Italy's 2019 budget law at the Lower House of the Parliament in Rome, Italy, December 29, 2018. REUTERS/Remo Casilli

ROME (Reuters) - Economy Minister Giovanni Tria said on Monday that nobody could use Italy’s gold reserves other than the European Central Bank, for financial operations.

Claudio Borghi, the economics spokesman of the ruling League party, has tabled a bill intended to establish that the gold is the property of the state, rather than of the Bank of Italy where the metal is held, a point which is disputed in Italy.

Borghi denied that this signaled the government wanted to sell some of the gold hoard, reckoned to be the world’s third largest, to help resolve its public finance difficulties, as one newspaper had reported.

But Tria, who is not a member of either the League or its coalition partner the 5-Star Movement, distanced himself from the proposed bill.

“Nobody can use the gold reserves except the ECB, for its monetary policy maneuvers,” he told Rete4 television station.

“No state can exert influence or give instructions because the Bank of Italy is independent, and neither can the Bank of Italy give gold to the Italian government, because that would be state aid,” and therefore against EU rules, Tria added.

Reporting by Giuseppe Fonte, writing by Gavin Jones; Editing by Crispian Balmer