Are LBMA and gold and silver ETFs next in line for inventory verification?

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Ghost Warehouse Stocks Haunt China's Steel Sector

By Ruby Lian and Fayen Wong
Reuters
Sunday, September 18, 2012

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/09/16/us-china-steel-warehouse-idUSB...

SHANGHAI -- Chinese banks and companies looking to seize steel pledged as collateral by firms that have defaulted on loans are making an uncomfortable discovery: The metal was never in the warehouses in the first place.

China's demand has faltered with the slowing economy, pushing steel prices to a three-year low and making it tough for mills and traders to keep up with payments on the $400 billion of debt they racked up during years of double-digit growth.

As defaults have risen in the world's largest steel consumer, lenders have found that warehouse receipts for metal pledged as collateral do not always lead them to stacks of stored metal. Chinese authorities are investigating a number of cases in which steel documented in receipts was either not there, belonged to another company, or had been pledged as collateral to multiple lenders, industry sources said.

... Dispatch continues below ...



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Ghost inventories are exacerbating the wider ailments of the sector in China, which produces around 45 percent of the world's steel and has over 200 million metric tons (220.5 million tons) of excess production capacity. Steel is another drag on a financial system struggling with bad loans from the property sector and local governments.

"What we have seen so far is just the tip of the iceberg," said a trader from a steel firm in Shanghai who declined to be identified as he was not authorized to speak to the media. "The situation will get worse as poor demand, slumping prices, and tight credit from banks create a domino effect on the industry."

The Shanghai government's asset regulator said that it had sent a note to state-owned firms in August asking them to verify receipts for stored metal on financing deals they had with steel traders.

Police have arrested an employee from Baoyang Warehouse in Shanghai and are investigating documentation for steel stocks that the employee issued to a trading firm, said an official with the surname Ou at Baoyang. Baoyang is owned by China Railway Materials Shanghai Co. Ltd.

Reuters was unable to contact a member of the police force that could comment on the investigation.

The trade firm used the stocks more than once as collateral to obtain loans, said an executive at Shanghai Minlurin, another trading firm that had steel stocks in the warehouse. The receipts used were for steel worth around 380 million yuan ($59.96 million), the executive said.

Similar cases have prompted some trading houses to temporarily halt transactions related to warehouse receipts, disrupting China's steel business, traders said.

"We have suspended business for days as we are afraid we won't be able to get any stocks from the warehouses if we get a fake receipt," said one Shanghai-based trader.

Banks too are giving less credit against warehouse receipts.

"Fake warehouse receipts have become a problem for some banks and because of this, many banks have boosted monitoring of existing stocks at warehouses and temporarily stopped accepting steel stocks as collateral for loans," said a Shanghai-based branch manager from a Chinese bank who declined to be identified as he was not authorized to speak to the media.

Steel mills and end users rely heavily on trading firms to keep steel flowing from producers to consumers. Steel traders often buy consignments with full payment, ensuring cash flow to the mills. End users can buy small volumes from the traders, more convenient for them than the big volumes the mills sell.

Industry sources estimated cases that have already come to light account for about 5 billion yuan ($787.50 million) of bad debt in Shanghai, one of China's biggest steel trading centers.

At another warehouse, a logistics unit of giant steelmaker Baosteel rented a small office to a company called Shanghai Yiye Steel Trade Market Management Co. Ltd. Documents were forged stating Yiye was the owner of some of the steel stored in the warehouse, said Wang Xueying, the spokeswoman for the unit called Shanghai Baosteel Logistics Co Ltd.

Yiye used the documents in dealings with two companies, China Railway Harbin Logistics and Wuhan Iron Yitong, the spokeswoman said.

The two companies came to the warehouse to collect the stocks only to find that Yiye did not own the materials, she said. The case is still under investigation, she added.

Nobody answered telephone calls to Yiye made by Reuters to request comment for this story. Both China Railway Harbin Logistics and Wuhan Iron Yitong declined to comment when contacted.

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Prophecy Platinum Intercepts Best Pt+Pd+Au Grades Yet
at Wellgreen Project in Yukon Territory: 5.36 g/t

Company Press Release
Tuesday, September 11, 2012

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Prophecy Platinum Corp. (TSX-V: NKL, OTC-QX: PNIKF, Frankfurt: P94P) announces more results of its 2012 drill program on the company's fully-owned Wellgreen platinum group metals, nickel, and copper project in southwestern Yukon Territory, Canada. Four surface holes and four underground holes all intercepted significant mineralized widths, ranging from 28.5 meters (WS12-201) and up to 459.5 metres (WS12-193). Highlights include WU12-540, which returned 8.9 metres of 5.36 grams per tonne platinum, palladium, and gold; 1.73 percent copper; and 1.01 percent nickel within 304.5 meters of 0.66 g/t platinum-palladium-gold, 0.20 percent copper, and 0.27 percent nickel.

The surface drill program started in June and has completed 16 holes (assays pending for 12 holes) with two rigs now on site. The surface program continues to progress at a steady pace.

Prophecy Chairman John Lee commented: “Wellgreen is a very large nickel, copper, and platinum group metals project with near-surface high-grade zones. High-grade intercepts will be incorporated into resource modeling and mine planning in the pre-feasibility study. We expect further positive drill results from Wellgreen shortly.”

Wellgreen features a low 2.59-to-1 strip ratio, is situated at an altitude of 1,300 meters, and is only 15 kilometers from the two-lane paved Alaska Highway. Those factors significantly minimize the project's indirect costs.

For the complete company statement with full tabulation of the drilling results, please visit:

http://prophecyplat.com/news_2012_sep11_prophecy_platinum_drill_results....