Up To $80 Billion Gold-Backed Loans Are Falsified, Chinese Auditor Warns
As the probe into alleged fraud at Qingdao continues to escalate (with liquidity needs growing more and more evident as Chinese money-market rates surge), Bloomberg reports that China’s chief auditor discovered 94.4 billion yuan ($15.2 billion) of loans backed by falsified gold transactions, in "the first official confirmation of what many people have suspected for a long time - that gold is widely used in Chinese commodity financing deals." As much as 1,000 tons of gold may have been used in lending and leasing deals in China and Goldman reports that up to $80 billion false-loans may involve gold. As one analyst noted, this was unlikely to have a significant impact on the underlying demand for gold in China and as we have pointed out before, any unwind of the Gold CFDs would lead to buying back of 'paper' gold hedges and implicitly a rise in prices.
China’s chief auditor discovered 94.4 billion yuan ($15.2 billion) of loans backed by falsified gold transactions, adding to signs of possible fraud in commodities financing deals.
As much as 1,000 tons of gold may have been used in lending and leasing deals in China, where commodities including metals and agricultural products are used to get credit amid lending restrictions, according to World Gold Council estimates.
Of the as much as $160 billion in transactions projected by Goldman, $80 billion may involve gold, $46 billion copper, $13.8 billion iron ore and $10.3 billion soybeans, according to a March 18 report.
Steps by the Chinese government to rein in credit by raising borrowing costs in recent years created a surge in commodities financing deals that Goldman Sachs Group Inc. estimates to be worth as much as $160 billion.
The Chinese agency that stockpiles strategic commodities is checking to ensure its copper purchases are free of collateral risks while the customs authorities issued new rules to help prevent goods being pledged multiple times as collateral, people with direct knowledge of these matters said previously.
How the deals worked...
In some commodities financing transactions, owners of raw materials sitting in ports use receipts from warehousing companies to get credit from banks, which they put to work in high-yielding investments before repaying the debt.
Other deals involve a Chinese buyer placing orders for commodities with overseas companies and then applying for a letter of credit from a lender, which they use to import the materials. The buyer can then sell the consignment in the domestic market and use the money onshore at a higher interest rate before repaying the original loan.
But the flow is expected to continue...
“This is the first official confirmation of what many people have suspected for a long time -- that gold is widely used in Chinese commodity financing deals,” said Liu Xu, a senior analyst at Capital Futures Co. in Beijing.
Mark To, head of research at Wing Fung Financial Group in Hong Kong, said the audit office’s report was unlikely to have a significant impact on the underlying demand for gold in China.
The global flow of bullion from west to east that’s helped to make China the world’s largest user will probably last for as long as two decades as rising incomes spur demand, according to the China Gold Association.
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As we commented previously:
When we previously contemplated what the end of funding deals (which the PBOC and the China Politburo seems rather set on) may mean for the price of other commodities, we agreed with Goldman that it would be certainly negative. And yet in the case of gold, it just may be that even if China were to dump its physical to some willing 3rd party buyer, its inevitable cover of futures "hedges", i.e. buying gold in the paper market, may not only offset the physical selling, but send the price of gold back to levels seen at the end of 2012 when gold CCFDs really took off in earnest.
In other words, from a purely mechanistical standpoint, the unwind of China's shadow banking system, while negative for all non-precious metals-based commodities, may be just the gift that all those patient gold (and silver) investors have been waiting for. This of course, excludes the impact of what the bursting of the Chinese credit bubble would do to faith in the globalized, debt-driven status quo. Add that into the picture, and into the future demand for gold, and suddenly things get really exciting.
Here's our previous epxlanation of gold's move... if we are right that somehow China managed to push gold lower via gold CFDs, then the unwind pushes gold higher:
Here's how that might work:
In the gold markets, the paper or synthetic 'demand/supply' dominates pricing as opposed to the non-precious metals which have at least a grain of fundamental sense to them still
Throughout 2012/2013 - as the gold CFDs were booming, Chinese demand for physical gold was soaring as the price plunged (due to the forward hedging required in the CFD transactions which pressured gold swaps/futures lower and thus dominated pricing)
As CFD unwinds hit en masse, these flows must unwind (cover hedges and ensure the underlying physical is there... and if not buy it)
This will pressure gold futures prices higher and because unlike in non-precious commodities where spot markets wag the tail of the futures markets - spot gold will likely be dragged higher also (as we know the demand for the physical has been high).
So unlike in the industrial commodities - where the CCFD unwind drives prices down as the image above shows, thanks to synthetic manipulation and domination of the paper gold (and silver) market, the opposite occurs in PMs.
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