| HONG KONG
HONG KONG Aug 1 The Monetary Authority of
Singapore (MAS) has sought information from some Singapore-based
lenders about their Chinese clients and loan exposure to China
amid an investigation into a suspected commodity financing fraud
at China's Qingdao port.
The regulator sent a questionnaire to a number of banks in
mid-July requesting data on their total China exposure by
purpose and trade finance exposure, according to five
Singapore-based banking sources. Lenders were also asked for
details of their import and export commodities exposure.
The increased oversight by MAS of the huge commodity trade
services industry based in Singapore suggests it is trying to
build a picture of its net exposure to China's sprawling
commodity-backed financing sector, which has come under pressure
this year due to slowing growth and a weak property market.
A spokesman for MAS, the city-state's central bank and
financial industry regulator, said it "does not comment on our
MAS routinely asks banks for details on their risk exposure
and market conditions, but bankers said the questionnaire was
unusual due to its depth and scope and that it required them to
gather a lot of data.
It was conducted due to "recent adverse news and development
concerning trade financing into China", MAS said in an email to
the banks. The email was read out to Basis Point, a Thomson
Reuters publication, by two of the sources.
"We are guessing it has something to do with the situation
in Qingdao. We have not received such questionnaires before. It
is our first time," said a banker who works in the corporate
financing division of a Singapore-based Chinese bank.
One of the banks was requested to submit data on China
deposits, wealth management and foreign currency exchange, while
another handed in a list of its China clients, according to
sources with direct knowledge.
Banks were asked to respond to the questionnaire by July 29,
the sources said. The sources are from Singapore-based Chinese,
Taiwan and Southeast Asia banks. They declined to be named due
to the sensitive nature of the matter.
Chinese authorities launched an investigation in early June
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
The financing probe at the world's seventh-busiest port has
left a string of global banks and trading houses scrambling to
secure metal supplies. Standard Chartered is suing Chen
Jihong, the Chinese businessman at the centre of the suspected
Other firms that have launched legal proceedings include
Standard Bank, CITIC Resources Holdings Ltd
and China's Shanxi Coal International Energy Group
. Banks such as StanChart, Citigroup and
commodity trader Mercuria have disclosed exposures amounting to
almost $1 billion.
(Additional reporting by Rachel Armstrong in SINGAPORE and
Melanie Burton and Sharon Klyne in SYDNEY; Editing by Alex