Chinese companies have used falsified gold transactions to obtain more than Rmb94bn in loans since 2012, according to the country’s national auditor.
The fraud, involving 25 bullion processing companies, was cited in the National Audit Office’s annual report to legislators this week and has raised further concerns about the integrity of China’s commodity markets.
An inquiry was launched this month in the northeastern port city of Qingdao following allegations that a metals company had pledged the same stocks of copper and aluminium multiple times as collateral for loans. Other commodities, including soyabeans, iron ore and rubber, are also routinely used in financing deals struck with local and foreign banks in order to circumvent tight domestic credit conditions.
The audit office said on its website the gold scam had netted the companies involved combined profits exceeding Rmb900m. The companies used the loans to take advantage of the difference between offshore and onshore interest rates, as well as the appreciation of the Chinese currency, according to the auditor.
Evidence of the falsified deals was discovered during spot checks on companies that process bullion, such as jewellers. The report covered a period starting in 2012. No end date was specified, and the 25 offending companies were not named. It was not clear from the report how the gold transactions were falsified.
Analysts have suspected for some time that large quantities of gold were being used to obtain financing in China. In April, the London-based World Gold Council, the industry’s marketing arm, said imported bullion was being used “to raise low-cost funds for business investment and speculation”, and was part of the wider growth in shadow banking in China.
Precious Metals Insights, a consultancy that provided figures for the WGC report, said that by the start of 2014 China companies could have locked up as much as 1,000 tonnes of gold in financial deals – equal to a nominal value of $42bn. Most of that bullion was acquired since 2011, the report said, a period that overlaps with the audit office investigation.
The use of gold for arbitrage deals would imply consumer demand for physical metal in China was not as strong as previously believed. China last year overtook India to become the biggest gold consumer for the first time. The gold price, which is mainly dictated by western investor demand, appeared unaffected by the news, trading at $1,317 a troy ounce yesterday, a 0.1 per cent decline for the day.
The report also revealed problems relating to China’s stockpiles of cotton, coal and corn. About 70 per cent of corn imported by China Grain Reserves Corp contained impurities exceeding the 3 per cent limit. Average month inventories at 12 emergency coal reserve locations were up to 30 per cent lower than the official targeted levels in 2011 and 2012.
涉及25家黄金加工企业的这起欺诈，是在国家审计署(National Audit Office)本周提交全国人大的年度报告中曝光的，进一步引发了关于中国大宗商品市场诚信问题的担忧。
一段时间以来，分析师们一直怀疑大量黄金在中国被用来获得融资。今年4月，黄金行业营销机构——总部位于伦敦的世界黄金协会（World Gold Council，简称WGC）称，进口的黄金被用来“筹集低成本资金，用于商业投资和投机”，这是中国影子银行业整体增长的一部分。
为世界黄金协会的报告提供数据的咨询机构——贵金属见解(Precious Metals Insights)表示，截止2014年初，中国企业可能已经在融资交易中锁定了1000吨黄金，名义价值相当于420亿美元。报告称，这些黄金大部分是2011年起买入的，在时间上与国家审计署的调查有所重叠。
国家审计署的报告还揭露了与中国棉花、煤炭和玉米储备相关的问题。中国储备粮管理总公司(China Grain Reserves Corp)进口的玉米中，大约70%玉米的杂质含量超过3%的上限。在12个应急煤炭储备点，2011年、2012年月均库存量达不到当期储备任务，最大缺口为30%。