Germany will keep hundreds of tonnes of gold in New York and London in case the European powerhouse needs to fend off an economic catastrophe.

Bundesbank – the country's central bank – announced on Thursday (9 February) it had completed the repatriation of 300 tonnes of the precious metal from the US after storing it there at the height of the Cold War.

The gold was initially kept locked in vaults deep beneath Manhattan in case the Soviet aArmy invaded, but kept it there after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

Germany started bring the gold back in 2013, after an official audit caused alarm at home over the way it was accounted for.

It aimed to keep half of its gold reserves in Frankfurt by 2020 and has all but achieved that target with the recent move, which was kept top secret to avoid security threats.

Gold bars amounting to around one-third of Germany's total reserves will remain in New York while about 13% will stay in London. The Bundesbank already moved 283 tonnes from Paris and plans to removed the final 91 tonnes.

The decision to keep bars of the metal in England and the US is because both London and New York are at the heart of global trading and gold's liquidity could be used if a major economic event happened.

"From a scientific point of view you could say it's no longer necessary," Jörg Krämer, chief economist at Commerzbank in Frankfurt, told the New York Times. "However, credibility is very important. Gold is perceived as trustworthy. Therefore it still plays a role."

According to the World Gold Council, Germany has an estimated 3,381 tonnes of gold representing almost 70% of its foreign reserves. The US has the world's largest reserves of gold with 8,133.5 tonnes while the the UK's reserves diminished greatly between 1999-2002 when chancellor Gordon Brown sold approximately half the nation's gold. At the last time of counting the UK had 310.29 tonnes. In early 2000, the UK's gold reserves hit an all-time high, with 588.27 tonnes.