Invoice fraud rife in SA gold exports: report
CAPE TOWN: South Africa was fingered in a report for flagrant discrepancies between its official trade statistics of gold exports versus the records of its trading partners.
According to information published by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), South Africa's trade data for gold showed cumulative gold exports of $34.5bn from 2000 to 2014, whereas its trade partner data revealed an amount which was more than three times higher at $116.2bn.
"This is indicative of massive export under-invoicing," the report said. Total misinvoicing of gold exports to South Africa's leading trading partners amounted to $113.6bn over the 15-year period. "In other words, virtually all gold exported by South Africa leaves the country unreported."
The report, which was released on Saturday at a global commodities forum in Nairobi, Kenya, suggested that the gold sector in South Africa deserves close scrutiny to identify the factors that may be generating incentives and opportunities for systematic export under-invoicing.
"The puzzling case of gold exports from South Africa, where the country's official statistics report very little gold exports, while substantial amounts appear in its leading trading partners' records, does not appear to be a simple matter of undervaluation of the quantities of gold exported, but rather a case of pure smuggling of gold out of the country," the report said. The UNCTAD report investigated the incidence of misinvoicing (invoice fraud) in five countries, namely South Africa, Chile, Côte d'Ivoire, Nigeria and Zambia.
Trade misinvoicing implies that money is being moved illicitly across borders, which includes deliberate misreporting of the value of a trade transaction.