WRAPUP 1-China's Shanxi Coal sues company at centre of Qingdao scandal

Fri Jun 27, 2014 12:12am EDT

* Lawsuit suggests scandal at Qingdao port hitting other sectors

* Shanxi Coal says owed $177 mln in payments guaranteed by Decheng Mining and its parent

* StanChart says has about $250 mln in commodity-related exposure around port

By Fayen Wong and Chen Aizhu

SHANGHAI/BEIJING, June 27 (Reuters) - China's Shanxi Coal International Energy Group said it was suing the company at the centre of the alleged metals financing fraud at Qingdao port and its parent for over $177 million in missed payments the two had guaranteed, a move that suggests the scandal is starting to affect other sectors in China.

Shanxi Coal said in a statement to the Shanghai Stock Exchange on Thursday it was suing three clients over the missed payments as well as Decheng Mining and its parent, Dezheng Resources, and another firm that had acted as guarantors.

No one at Decheng Mining or Dezheng Resources was immediately available for comment.

Shares in Shanxi Coal were down 3.76 percent at 3.58 yuan at midday on Friday, after falling as much as 4.3 percent earlier.

Chinese authorities are investigating Decheng Mining over the alleged duplication of warehouse receipts at China's third-largest port to obtain multiple loans secured against a single cargo of metal. Decheng Mining has not commented on the probe.

As details of the potential fraud become clearer, the possible exposure of various parties to Decheng and its parent could amount to around $2.8 billion, according to an aggregation of amounts contained in company statements and Chinese media.

Standard Chartered, a major foreign provider of commodity financing deals, said on Thursday it had about $250 million worth of commodity-related exposure around Qingdao port, although not all of that was at risk.

"That is across multiple clients, multiple locations, multiple types of facilities, not all of which will be affected," Chief Executive Peter Sands said on a conference call.

Shanxi Coal said that of the total it was owed, $120.4 million was in dollars and the rest in yuan.

The Qingdao scandal has rattled global metals markets, reflecting market fears about business practices in China and worries that the probe could extend to other ports and prompt a crackdown on using metal as collateral for finance.

"This incident illustrates the risks commodity financing and the practice of inter-company loans pose to the real economy" said Li Ji, a coal analyst at Galaxy Futures Brokerage.

Authorities have not yet disclosed the amount of metal involved in the Decheng financing probe, but sources familiar with the matter said it was about 20,000 tonnes of copper, nearly 100,000 tonnes of aluminium ingots and about 200,000 tonnes of alumina, the raw material for aluminium production. That quantity of metal would be worth about $390 million at current prices.

Earlier this month, China's CITIC Resources Holding Ltd said a court was unable to secure more than 100,000 tonnes of alumina it stored at Qingdao port, estimated to be worth $43 million.

In a further sign of irregularities in China's commodity financing market, the National Audit Office said this week that Chinese gold processing firms had used falsified gold transactions to borrow 94.4 billion yuan ($15.2 billion) from banks.

The audit report covered a period beginning in 2012 and did not specify an end date. It did not identify any companies or banks.

Spot checks on 25 companies that process bullion, such as jewellers, showed they made a combined profit of more than 900 million yuan by using the bank loans to take advantage of the difference between onshore and offshore interest rates, as well the appreciation of the Chinese currency, the report said. (Additional reporting by Ruby Lian and Melanie Burton; Writing by Dean Yates; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

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