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Expert denies counterfeiting of gold bars

By Chen Yang (Global Times)

08:21, October 10, 2012

A quality expert Tuesday denied rumors that 40 percent of gold bars sold in China are impure, and said only 2 percent of gold products sent to their testing center have been found to be impure.

"Most of the gold products with counterfeiting problems came from unlicensed channels and were found to contain metals such as copper, iridium or tungsten," Zhu Demao, director of the Testing Center for Gold and Jewelry of Jiangsu Province, told the Global Times Tuesday.

Recently, an online post claimed that a customer bought a gold bar weighing 1 kilogram from Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), and then found that the bar contained iridium after testing its purity at an authorized institution in Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu Province.

The post claimed that about 40 percent of gold bars sold in China are mixed with metals such as iridium or tungsten.

The post was widely circulated on the Internet during the National Day holidays, when gold prices rose quickly and sales of gold investment bars became hot.

"The density of gold and iridium is very similar, so it is difficult for consumers to detect the counterfeiting," an analyst who declined to be named at CGS Co, a Sichuan-based gold investment consultancy, told the Global Times Tuesday.

"The rumor will not only hurt the State-owned bank's credibility, but also affect investors' enthusiasm for gold bars," he said.

ICBC denied the rumor late Monday.

"Every gold bar sold by ICBC has a certificate to ensure its quality. ICBC entrusts authorized institutions to do annual sampling inspection of its gold bars, and all past tests showed the gold bars were in accordance with the national standard," the bank said.

The bank also noted that it promises customers to buy back the gold bars in the future.

With public skepticism rising over the actual amount of gold contained in bars, some Internet users also claimed that the gold souvenirs for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games they bought from Bank of China (BOC) became rusted, and posted pictures of the items.

Calls to BOC's communication department went unanswered Tuesday. Questions sent to Shenzhen-based Eastern Gold Jade, the manufacturer of the gold souvenirs, also went unanswered by press time.

"The purity problem in some gold products might not be related to fraud, but caused by pollution in the soldering process," Zhu said.

This is not the first time domestic gold products were found to have problems. In December 2010, products from 24 jewelry companies were reported to include problems ranging from insufficient gold content to diamond-clarity issues.

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