31 March in the history of the Bank of Lithuania

Today is the last day of March. This date is important for the Bank of Lithuania as well. Two events are related to 31 March, when the Bank of Lithuania (and also Lithuania, of course) won some international acclaim.

On 31 March 1931, the Bank of Lithuania became a shareholder of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), thereby joining the international family of central banks. The BIS commenced operation in 1930 and is the world’s oldest international financial organisation. 56 central banks, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund currently are members of the BIS. The BIS promotes co-operation between central banks in seeking monetary and financial system stability; it develops and improves international standards in banking supervision, financial settlements, and other important areas of central banking. In 1992, the Bank of Lithuania’s membership of the BIS was restored and the shares owned by the Bank of Lithuania since 1931 were returned.

On 31 March 1992, the Bank of Lithuania reclaimed its gold holdings from the Bank of England. By 1940, Lithuania had accumulated gold at the approximate amount of LTL 63 million (9.5 tons). It was stored in a foreign bank’s vaults, while about a third of Lithuania’s total gold was held in the Bank of England. After the USSR occupied Lithuania, the invaders’ government addressed foreign banks in pursuit of obtaining the gold accumulated by Lithuania. Nearly all countries did not recognise Lithuania’s annexation and refused to do so. Nevertheless, in the 1960s, the gold kept safely in England was used to cover mutual claims (with the USSR), although England never recognised the occupation of the Baltic States. When Lithuania regained its independence, it returned all of Lithuania’s gold, which had been safely kept before the occupation. The return of the gold may have been a symbolic gesture, but it was a significant sign of Lithuania’s recognition.