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    Gilt complex about Chinese gold

    Synopsis

    Turning 83 tonnes of gold into copper had more to do with larceny than alchemy.

    iStock
    The bars were apparently inspected not only by several lenders and insurers but also the Hubei provincial assay office and the gem certification centre of the China University of Geosciences in Wuhan. (Representative image)
    Had the scam happened in India, those in the dock could well have insisted that missing bullion was eaten away by superrats, or some witch-doctor turned gold into dross. But such creative explanations have not yet come to light as it was in China that 83 tonnes of gold bars have turned out to be gilded copper.

    Indeed, Chinese officials may have a feeling of déjà vu as the Nasdaq-listed privately owned local gold processor Kingold pledging fake bullion for 20 billion yuan (over Rs 20,000 crore) in loans from onshore lenders sounds all too similar to a 2016 gold scam in Shaanxi province except there the swapped metal was tungsten. Moreover, as the fraud surfaced in Wuhan, any ‘facts’ emanating from there should definitely come under extra special scrutiny. The fear that more Chinese gold — even in its national reserves — may be fake is real.

    The bars were apparently inspected not only by several lenders and insurers but also the Hubei provincial assay office and the gem certification centre of the China University of Geosciences in Wuhan. How they subsequently morphed into copper clearly has more to do with larceny than alchemy. The sheer scale and audacity of the deception, of course, lends itself to a future Netflix series on its own, not merely as fodder for a new season of its hit ongoing Spanish crime saga 'Money Heist'.

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