Russia’s sovereign gold stockpile is the fifth-biggest in the world. (Image from Vladimir Putin’s website)

Russians bought an all-time record number of gold bars in 2022, finance ministry data showed on Friday, as tax cuts on precious metals encouraged people to stock up on bullion as a safe asset.

Moscow scrapped its 20% VAT on physical gold trades for individuals last March in a bid to draw people away from using the US dollar as a safe haven.

According to the data, Russians bought over 50 tonnes of gold bars in 2022, ten times more than the year before. The most sought after were 1 kilogram bars which accounted for about 60% of those sold.

The figures are not yet final and only cover the period ending November 2022, the finance ministry told Reuters.

State-controlled VTB Bank said it sold 33.8 tonnes of gold bars to customers in 2022, with clients holding 50 billion roubles ($711 million) worth of the metal.

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