Perth Mint sold diluted gold to China, got caught, and tried to cover it up
Comment of the Day

March 07 2023

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Perth Mint sold diluted gold to China, got caught, and tried to cover it up

This article for ABC News May be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

The historic Perth Mint is facing a potential $9 billion recall of gold bars after selling diluted or "doped" bullion to China and then covering it up, according to a leaked internal report.

Four Corners has uncovered documents charting the WA government-owned mint's decision to begin "doping" its gold in 2018, and then how it withheld evidence from its largest client in an effort to protect its reputation.

While the gold remained above broader industry standards, the report estimated up to 100 tonnes of gold sent to Shanghai Gold Exchange (SGE) potentially did not comply with Shanghai's strict purity standards for silver content.

One Perth Mint insider, who asked not to be named as they could face five years' jail if their identity is revealed, says it is a "scandal of the highest level".

"I don't know if I've ever seen one this big," they say.

The mint is the largest processor of newly mined gold in the world, one of Perth's top tourist attractions and well known for producing commemorative coins to mark everything from royal weddings to a new James Bond film.

Last year alone it sold $20.3 billion in gold. It is the only mint in the world that has a government guarantee.

Eoin Treacy's view

I’m currently reading The Dawn of Everything: a New History of Humanity. It’s heavy going. They go through many proof points in an attempt to justify their view. The overarching theme is we are people and have always been people. Over the millennia nothing has changed in terms of human nature.

I was thinking about that this morning as I contemplated the Perth mint’s fraud. History is replete with examples of governments who have attempted to cover over holes in the budget by debasing the currency. This is not quite the same because the mint does not produce coinage. The difference is academic for Chinese buyers who prize purity.  

There is no good way to spin this debacle but the Western Australian taxpayer is going to pick up the bill. The production of physical gold bars and coins is a low margin business because buyers always wish to buy as close to spot as possible. This event means the Perth mint will have to find cost savings somewhere, to payback the state government. That implies higher prices for physical.

Gold pulled back sharply today following the Jerome Powell’s hawkish commentary. A clear upward dynamic will be required to confirm support in the $1800 area. 

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