[SINGAPORE] China is investigating a surge in precious metals exports in September, China Business News reported on its website on Thursday, in a sign of suspected irregularities in trade numbers.
China has already sent a team of investigators from a number of government departments to the southern province of Guangdong, which borders Hong Kong, to ascertain the cause of the increase, the newspaper reported, citing unnamed sources.
The value of shipments of precious metals, including jewellery, rose to about US$10.8 billion in September, a 678 percent jump from a year ago, the paper said.
The Ministry of Commerce, which regulates such trade, did not immediately respond to calls seeking comment.
China typically does not reveal trade data on gold, so the exports figures likely reflect silver, platinum and palladium trade.
Last month, China's currency regulator said it had found nearly US$10 billion worth of falsified trade transactions more than a year after the fake trades were first uncovered.
To evade China's capital controls and move money in or out of the world's second-biggest economy, some companies create artificial trade invoices that are not backed by an actual exchange of goods or services.
Global commodity markets were rattled in June when an investigation into a trade fraud in China showed companies had used fake receipts at a port in Qingdao in east China to obtain multiple loans secured against a single cargo of metal.
In June, China's chief auditor said Chinese gold processing firms have since 2012 used falsified gold transactions to borrow 94.4 billion yuan (US$15 billion) from banks.