The Western Australian Opposition Leader has called for a Royal Commission into the Perth Mint, amid a slew of allegations levelled at the precious metals processor.
An ABC Four Corners segment on Monday reported the Perth Mint “doped” – i.e. diluted – a number of gold bars sold to China.
The mint began cutting its bars with silver in 2018 – an accepted industry practice, and not illegal in and of itself – but now faces having to recall $8.7bn worth of gold bullion sold to the Shanghai Gold Exchange (SGE).
The Four Corners review alleges the Perth Mint sold about $8.7bn in diluted or ‘doped’ gold bars to China.
SGE maintains one of the highest purity standards in the world, demanding its gold be 99.9 per cent pure, but the doping wasn’t disclosed to the exchange at the time of the sale.
An internal Perth Mint report showed refinery staff had raised concerns the levels of silver and copper being added to gold bars were too high.
Then, in September 2021, SGE flagged two gold bars which allegedly contained unacceptable levels of silver.
Shane Love, Leader of The Nationals WA, is calling for a Royal Commission into Gold Corporation. Picture: Supplied
An internal examination of the purity of one of those bars also revealed it had been previously flagged by the mint itself as having too much silver.
Despite the tests, then-Perth Mint CEO Richard Hayes decided only to send the complaint tests to SGE.
About this time, the mint also stopped its doping program.
Nationals WA leader Shane Love is now calling for a Royal Commission into Gold Corporation, the Perth Mint’s official name.
“As a State government-owned organisation, it is unfathomable to see these allegations about Gold Corporation, particularly given the Premier was directly responsible much of the time,” Mr Love said on Tuesday.
Perth Mint is the only mint in the world with a government guarantee, and is the largest processor of newly mined gold in the world.
The same Four Corners report also revealed Perth Mint is being investigated by financial crime regulator AUSTRAC over compliance with the nation’s money laundering laws.
‘Doping’ gold bars means cutting them with silver or copper. It’s an accepted industry practice and is not illegal.
In one case, notorious Perth bikie Dayne Brajkovich was allowed to buy $27,000 worth of gold bullion in June, only having to show his driver’s license despite rules stating thorough identity checks need to be carried out on bullion purchases over $5000.
There’s no suggestion Mr Brajkovich’s funds were ill-gained, but AUSTRAC’s website explains further checks should have been carried out.
“You must identify the source of funds and source of wealth on certain high-risk customers,” reads its website.
Perth Mint CEO Jason Waters is due to front the media in Perth on Tuesday afternoon to respond to the ABC investigation.
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