No Audit Means No Gold

No Audit Means No Gold

No Audit Means No Gold

Businesses come and go, and in some industries bankruptcies are not uncommon. But one business that should be expected never to go belly-up is a bullion depository.

Yet that’s just what happened recently, when The Austin Texas Bullion Direct (ATBD), a major US storage facility, filed for bankruptcy.

How is this possible? Well, if we needed to describe it in a single word, it would be “unaudited.”

ATDB opened in 1999 and has been very successful as a depository, but, in early 2015 clients began having concerns when they would sell their precious metals on deposit, then, not receive payment from ATDB. Now, they’ve closed their doors and, when inspectors came in, they found that $30 million in gold is missing from the vault.

In the gold business, if even one Maple Leaf goes missing, it’s a red-flag occurrence. Not so much because of the value of the coin, but because it represents a breach in security and/or procedure. When $30 million goes missing, it’s not an oversight, or an accounting error – it’s clearly a case of corporate theft.

So, is this a one-off? Are there other depositories out there where the same could happen? Well, sadly, yes. There are others, and here, we come back to that one word – “unaudited.”

There are many depositories that are uninsured and/or unaudited. Yet both are absolutely essential to the safety of the client’s deposit.

Any potential depositor should go through a check list of all the surety factors of any depository prior to signing a contract. At a minimum, the client should check

  • Building located in a minimum-crime area
  • Building designed as a fortified structure, with bullet-proof glass at openings
  • UL Rated III vault with walls, floor and ceiling designed to approved standards
  • Deposits fully allocated and segregated
  • Provision for the client to visit the facility and see his/her bullion
  • Deposits fully insured by comprehensive insurance
  • Annual independent audit performed by a reputable 3rd party firm

It should be mentioned that this last requirement would have saved the depositors of ATDB. At SWP, our auditors are KPMG, one of the ‘big four’ accounting firms. Each year, KPMG conducts a physical count of all holdings in SWP’s Cayman Islands vault (with the exception of safe deposit boxes), and only when satisfied, issues an independent report which is then shared by SWP with their account holders.

Note: A client’s personal information is never shared with KPMG.

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