The author has been described by News Ltd as an "iconoclast", "Svengali", a pollie's "economist muse", and "pungently accurate". Fairfax says he is a "Renaissance man" and "one of Australia’s most respected analysts." Stephen Koukoulas concludes that he is "85% right", and "would make a great Opposition leader." Terry McCrann claims the author thinks "‘nuance’ is a trendy village in the south of France", but can be "scintillating" when he thinks "clearly". The ACTU reckons he’s "an enigma wrapped in a Bloomberg terminal, wrapped in some apparently well-honed abs."

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Chinese fraud dents Asian profit for CBA

No surprise here given my regular warnings. From Banking Day:

Commonwealth Bank's story of profit growth in Asia - which is driven by investments in Indonesia and China - continues to be hampered by the little discussed fraud in 2010 at Qilu Bank, in which CBA holds a 20 per cent stake.

CBA said its equity-accounted profits from associates in Asia "was partially offset by a lower contribution to earnings from Qilu Bank as a result of the ongoing impact of a prior year fraud incident."

The impact of this incident (reprised in this February 2012 article) continues to reverberate.

In late June, Li Fulu, former deputy director of the Shandong Province Finance Bureau's supervisory examination division, was found guilty of accepting a bribe of 30 million yuan from Liu Jiyuan, a local business owner who forged bank certificates to secure loans from Qilu Bank.

Li used his influence to deposit the Bureau's idle capital of 800 million yuan at Qilu, which was used to guarantee Liu's loans (of the same amount) from the bank.

The court imposed a sentence of death on Li and ordered confiscation of all his personal assets. Li has appealed the sentence.

Eight other local officials are alleged to have been involved in the fraud and are currently on trial.

CBA sheds no light on the level of losses at Qilu Bank, and Qilu also is slow to disclose its financials.

Data provided to the Dagong Global Credit Rating Company, which relates to 2011, shows a decline of 1.5 percentage points in the core capital ratio of the bank.

However, Bank of Hangzhou, CBA's other 20 per cent owned associate, is doing well, though once again the bank is keeping disclosure minimal. CBA said Bank of Hangzhou had "benefit[ed] from lending growth and higher margins."

Commonwealth said it had opened two more "county" banks in China over the year and now operates five such entities.

CBA said its cash profit from Asia increased 49 per cent to A$79 million over the year. Cash profits increased by 14 per cent over the half year.

Most of the increase in profit is due to expansion of the bank's wholly owned business in Indonesia, where business volumes roughly doubled over the year.