If anyone were contemplating creating “fake” gold bars, tungsten [at roughly $10 per pound] would be the metal of choice since it has the exact same density as gold making a fake bar salted with tungsten indistinguishable from a solid gold bar by simply weighing it.
There are now more sordid details to report.
When the news of tungsten “salted” gold bars in Hong Kong first surfaced, many people
who I am acquainted with automatically assumed that these bars were manufactured in China – because China is generally viewed as “the knock-off capital of the world”.
Here’s what I now understand really happened:
The amount of “salted tungsten” gold bars in question was allegedly between 5,600 and 5,700 – 400 oz – good delivery bars [roughly 60 metric tonnes. This was apparently all highly orchestrated by an extremely well financed criminal operation. Within mere hours of this scam being identified – Chinese officials had many of the perpetrators in custody. And here’s what the Chinese allegedly uncovered: Roughly 15 years ago – during the Clinton Administration [think Robert Rubin, Sir Alan Greenspan and Lawrence Summers] – between 1.3 and 1.5 million 400 oz tungsten blanks were allegedly manufactured by a very high-end, sophisticated refiner in the USA [more than 16 Thousand metric tonnes]. Subsequently, 640,000 of these tungsten blanks received their gold plating and WERE shipped to Ft. Knox and remain there to this day. I know folks who have copies of the original shipping docs with dates and exact weights of “tungsten” bars shipped to Ft. Knox.