Tunisian central bank denies Ben Ali fled with gold

The Tunisia Central Bank said Friday that the country’s gold stocks have remained unchanged, denying reports that Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and his wife took about 1.5 tonnes with them when the left the country last week. A Tunisia-based business publication says it has proof that the missing gold is in the Central Bank of England, in the name of the Tunisian bank.

Reuters/Finbarr O'Reilly

This week the Tunisia Central Bank (TCB) dismissed French reports that Ben Ali’s wife left with the gold.

"The rumour circulating in the media about the withdrawal of a tonne-and-a-half of gold from the TCB is unfounded,” the bank said Friday in a statement. “The stock of gold in the TCB, which is about 5.3 tonnes, is under draconian security measures.”

The World Gold Council last year said in an online report that Tunisia had 6.8 tonnes, an amount that has not changed for years. The TCB said it has about 5.3 tonnes in its reserves, and another 1.5 tonnes in the Bank of England.

The Tunisia-based publication African Manager claims to have proof of this. It published a document on Friday that it says is a fax sent from the Bank of England on 11 December that shows the bank holds 44.93 ounces of gold for the Tunisian Central Bank, or about 1.4 metric tonnes.

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