This is major league bad news, will destroy the credibility of exchange traded physical and possibly criminal.
From Jesse's Café Américain:
The bottom line is that apparently some warehouses and bullion dealers are not a safe place to store your gold and silver, even if you have a warehouse receipt. Ownership is merely a concept, subject to interpretation and confiscation.And from Barron's:
Although the details and the individual perpetrators are yet to be disclosed, what is now painfully clear is that the CME regulated futures system is defaulting on their obligations. This did not even happen in the big failures like Lehman and Bear Sterns in which the customer accounts were kept whole and transferred before the liquidation process.
Obviously holding unallocated gold and silver in a fractional reserve scheme is subject to much more counterparty risk than many might have previously admitted. If a major bullion bank were to declare bankruptcy or a major exchange a default, how would it affect you? Do you think your property claims would be protected?
You have counter-party risk if you hold gold and silver through another party, even if they are a Primary Dealer of the Federal Reserve. As Ben said, the Fed offers no seal of approval.
If a Bankruptcy Trustee can pool your bullion into the rest of the paper assets and then liquidate it at prices that are being front run by the Street, you will have to accept whatever paper settlement that they give you.
The customer money and bullion assets are not lost, or rehypothecated or anything else. This is a pseudo-legal fig leaf, a convenient rationalization.
The customer assets were stolen, and given to at least one major financial institution by MF Global to satisfy an 11th hour margin call in the week of their bankruptcy, even as MF Global was paying bonuses to its London employees....MORE
The Silver Rush at MF Global
Investors are furious that they can't get back the gold and silver they stashed with the failed brokerage.
It's one thing for $1.2 billion to vanish into thin air through a series of complex trades, the well-publicized phenomenon at bankrupt MF Global. It's something else for a bar of silver stashed in a vault to instantly shrink in size by more than 25%.
That, in essence, is what's happening to investors whose bars of silver and gold were held through accounts with MF Global.
The trustee overseeing the liquidation of the failed brokerage has proposed dumping all remaining customer assets—gold, silver, cash, options, futures and commodities—into a single pool that would pay customers only 72% of the value of their holdings. In other words, while traders already may have paid the full price for delivery of specific bars of gold or silver—and hold "warehouse receipts" to prove it—they'll have to forfeit 28% of the value.
That has investors fuming. "Warehouse receipts, like gold bars, are our property, 100%," contends John Roe, a partner in BTR Trading, a Chicago futures-trading firm. He personally lost several hundred thousand dollars in investments via MF Global; his clients lost even more. "We are a unique class, and instead, the trustee is doing a radical redistribution of property," he says.
Roe and others point out that, unlike other MF Global customers, who held paper assets, those with warehouse receipts have claims on assets that still exist and can be readily identified.
The tussle has been obscured by former CEO Jon Corzine's appearances on Capitol Hill. But it's a burning issue for the Commodity Customer Coalition, a group that says it represents some 8,000 investors—many of them hedge funds—with exposure to MF Global. "I've issued a declaration of war," says James Koutoulas, lead attorney for the group, and CEO of Typhon Capital Management.
At stake is an unspecified, but apparently large, volume of gold and silver bars slated for delivery to traders through accounts at MF Global, which filed for bankruptcy on Oct. 31. Adding insult to the injury: Of the 28% haircut, attorney and liquidation trustee James Giddens has frozen all asset classes, meaning that traders have sat helplessly as silver prices have dropped 31% since late August, and gold has fallen 16%. To boot, the traders are still being assessed fees for storage of the commodities.
Other kinds of problems are also surfacing. Investor Gerald Celente says he was hit with a big margin call when the gold contracts in his MF Global account were transferred to another brokerage. "I refused to put up more money," he explains, "so they closed out a number of my open positions at the current market price." The trustee, Giddens, couldn't be reached for comment for this story....MORE