Standard Bank has $170 million exposure to China metal fraud

by Reuters 0

The bank has also started legal proceedings in Shandong province to protect its position.

Standard Bank is the third company to say it has started legal action to recoup losses since Chinese authorities launched an investigation into whether a private metals trading firm, Decheng Mining and its related companies, used fake warehouse receipts at Qingdao Port to obtain multiple loans secured against a single cargo of metal.

The bank, a subsidiary of [DATA SBK:Standard Bank Group], said in a statement on Thursday it also has an exposure of 40 million dollars worth of aluminium at other bonded warehouse facilities in Shandong province and has started legal proceedings to secure its position.

Standard Bank had about 80,000 tonnes of aluminium in Qingdao Port and about 20,000 tonnes of the metal at the nearby Penglai Port, said a source familiar with matter.

A spokesman for the bank declined to comment on the volume.

Despite the emergence of another port in this scandal, trade and bank sources who have checked inventories at terminals across China said the scandal remains as an isolated incident centred on Decheng, which also used storage facilities at Penglai Port in Shandong province and another terminal in the northern Liaoning province.

As details of the potential fraud become clearer, more companies, including Citic Resources Holdings Ltd and China’s Shanxi Coal International Energy Group, have begun to launch legal proceedings and announced their potential exposure.

Wanxiang Resources, a commodities trading arm of Wanxiang Group, has also been hit by the alleged fraud and has filed a lawsuit against Decheng Mining in a Shanghai court, said a source with direct knowledge of the matter.

Wanxiang Resources declined to comment.

Standard Bank said last month its total commodity-related exposure around China’s Qingdao port was about 250 million dollars. It did not say if it has started legal proceedings.

The exposure of foreign banks and various trading firms, including Citic and Mercuria Energy Trading SA, could amount to more than 680 million dollars, according to an aggregation of amounts in company statements and reports.

Local media said Decheng and its parent owed Chinese banks at least 16 billion yuan.

Standard Bank said the financial impact of its exposures were still being assessed and would be addressed in the group’s interim results on 14 August.