Is “gold custody” a new scam?China Gold will advance payment

Is “gold custody” a new scam?China Gold will advance payment

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China National Gold Group Gold Jewelry Co., Ltd. announced today that the Beijing R&F Plaza store operated by Beijing Sandingyuan Gold Jewelry Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as Sandingyuan) violated the “Specialty Store Franchise Agreement” signed with the company and violated regulations. The so-called “worry-free gold bar reservation” business was carried out without authorization, and the business activities were stopped privately on December 27, 2023. The products purchased by consumers were unable to be redeemed. Its original actual controller Yang Moumou has been criminally detained by the public security organs and entered Judicial procedure.

The company and relevant responsible parties decided to make advance payments to relevant consumers in advance and fully safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of consumers.

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  Many brand gold stores suddenly closed, and hundreds of millions of gold “disappeared”!Reporter investigation

Recently, many consumers have reported that many brand gold stores in Beijing have closed, resulting in the “disappearance” of hundreds of millions of yuan worth of gold held by consumers. Is it true?

Recently, many consumers have reported that the gold store on the third floor of Shuangjing R&F City, Chaoyang District, Beijing has closed down. Through the transparent fence, you can see that there are no products displayed on the glass window.

The reporter met Mr. Lu near this closed store that symbolized the “China Gold” brand, and was about to go to the police station to submit supplementary materials.

Mr. Lu, a consumer in Beijing: My mother-in-law bought a “worry-free reservation” for China Gold Investment gold bars. I now take these relevant materials, including invoices, and some guarantee notes for small gold coins as interest, and prepare to go to Shuangjing Police Station to declare the case.

The closed gold store is located in Shuangjing R&F Plaza, Chaoyang District, Beijing, and has been open for 14 years. According to media reports on July 3, 2009, this China Gold concept store is known as China Gold’s “largest single store in Beijing”, with a total of 3,000 square meters on two floors. However, the store closed suddenly at the end of December last year, the personnel were missing, and the investment gold bars previously held in the store could not be withdrawn.

Consumers said that they basically purchased the “worry-free reservation” service of this store. According to the merchant’s promotion at the time: “worry-free reservation” is a gold custody service, and the merchant promises that consumers can invest the gold bars they purchased. Leave it to the store for safekeeping according to the agreed period. For example, if you purchase one-year custody, you will receive a pure gold gift of 2.5% of the gram of the purchased gold bar. After expiration, you can pick up the goods, renew the contract, or let the store repurchase it at the real-time gold price. Consumer Ms. Zhou told reporters that she decided to buy gold at the store after seeing the store’s “worry-free booking” promotional page in 2015. Ms. Zhou also presented more than ten gold bars as gifts that she had saved over the years after renewing her contract.

Ms. Zhou, a consumer in Beijing: As long as I don’t take it back, I will give him 10 grams of small gold bars for every 400 grams I deposit with him, and I will sign a contract every year. The door was closed on December 27 last year. On the day of closing, I received a WeChat notification from the salesperson.

This is not the only store that suddenly closed. Consumers at the “Shandong Gold” counter in the Huamao Commercial Building in Haidian District, Beijing also encountered similar problems. After a woman’s mother first purchased gold bars at the counter in 2019, she not only renewed the contract every year, but also deposited the 1,000-gram investment gold bars purchased at China Construction Bank in the store for custody. The total amount of gold in custody was approximately 900,000 yuan. . The woman showed the reporter the policy she signed during the first year of custody, but she never signed it again.

Beijing consumer: After my mother applied for redemption at the end of August 2022, the shopping guide and store manager kept delaying the purchase, and finally lost contact. At that time, I met another victim and was unable to pay. At that time, my mother also called the police.

  China Gold calls closed gold stores non-direct stores of brand franchisees

Gold stores suddenly closed, and many consumers tried to contact the head office of the brand gold store, but the head office stated that it could not directly bear the losses of consumers.

Mr. Tang, a consumer in Beijing: We have communicated with China Gold Group many times, and their legal department told us that the store that “ran away” was a franchise store, not a directly-operated store, and the company did not authorize them to provide related custody services. They said there was no such thing. The legal basis supports China National Gold Group directly bearing the losses of our consumers.

Ms. Zhou provided reporters with a table in which the victims spontaneously calculated the amount of money in January this year. For consumers with a large number of custody, the amount exceeded 2 million yuan. The current preliminary calculation is that the value of the gold that disappeared in the store has exceeded 40 million yuan. .

Ms. Zhou, a consumer in Beijing: There used to be more than 30 of us in the rights protection group at the beginning, but now there are more than 80 people. After the incident, the China Gold headquarters said it was a franchise store. Anyway, we believed in our hearts that it was still China Gold. It was only after the incident that we realized there was a difference.

However, contract information provided by many consumers for several consecutive years shows that Party B of the contract is the “China Gold Beijing Concept Store” in Chaoyang District, Beijing. However, in fact, this store currently has no equity relationship with China Gold. association.

When the reporter inquired about the relevant information of this “China Gold Beijing Concept Store” franchisee company, it was found that consumers first received the store closing notice on December 26. On December 25, the major shareholder who originally held 70% of the company’s shares reduced its capital and exited, and the previous shareholder who held only 30% of the shares became a sole proprietor. On that day, the company’s registered capital was reduced from 10 million yuan to 3 million yuan.

The reporter found on the investor platform that this is not the first time that China Gold has faced similar problems. In March 2023, an investor asked China Gold how to deal with the gold bars purchased by consumers after a flagship store in Hangzhou closed but could not be withdrawn. The company replied: “Consult local dealers.” China Gold’s 2022 financial report shows that the stores have been opened There are a total of 3,642 stores, of which there are only 105 directly operated stores. More than 90% of China’s gold stores are franchise stores.

According to its 2022 annual report, franchise fees include brand usage fees and management service fees. The former allows franchisees to purchase K-gold jewelry products from designated suppliers during the contract period. After passing the quality inspection by the company and authoritative testing agencies, the franchisees will be charged fees for listing the products under the “China Gold” brand for over-the-counter sales. The latter charges fees for providing training and guidance services on products, operations, etc. to franchisees during the contract period. Both expenses are apportioned and recognized as revenue over the validity period of the contract.

A bank statement provided by consumer Mr. Tang to reporters showed that when he purchased gold bars at the “China Gold Beijing Concept Store” in 2012 and held them in custody, the name of the deposit account was “China Gold.” This information made consumers confused. Confused.

China Gold’s prospectus shows that “the company provides gold custody services to customers who purchase investment gold bars.” However, the reporter checked all the company’s announcements and did not mention whether franchise stores are allowed to provide custody services. Regarding the above issues, the reporter tried to contact China Gold many times, but without success until the time of publication.

The reporter found that China Gold’s latest response to the matter was on March 20, stating that the company had attached great importance to it and had set up a special team to actively promote the proper handling of the incident. We have already communicated with relevant parties to negotiate solutions to reduce the impact on the company’s operations.

  Lawyer: The gold store involved is suspected of illegal fund-raising

The brand company believes that they should not pay for the losses of consumers, and the major shareholder of the franchise store company involved is suspected of running away. Who should be responsible for the losses of consumers?

At the Shuangjing Police Station in Chaoyang District, Beijing, the reporter met many consumers who reported this matter. They are currently submitting materials and waiting for further notification of the investigation results from the Chaoyang District Public Security Economic Investigation Brigade. During the interview, the reporter found that many consumers have renewed their custody contracts with stores for many years in a row, and many have never even seen the physical investment gold bars they have entrusted.

Mr. Tang, a consumer in Beijing: Most consumers renew their custody contracts every year, which means that a large amount of money is concentrated in the hands of stores. Later, when I went to negotiate with China Gold’s legal affairs, I learned that they investigated the store afterwards and found that the store had purchased very little physical gold from China Gold in recent years.

It is understood that the franchise model is a common business model for domestic gold jewelry brands. However, when these franchisees are likely to be insolvent or bankrupt, can consumers ask for compensation from the brand licensor to recover their losses? Experts said that such cases involve three parties: brands, franchisees and consumers, and the case processing cycle will be lengthened. The specific situation requires further investigation.

Liu Biao, a researcher at the Capital Research Center of China University of Political Science and Law: In the eyes of ordinary people, franchisees and head offices of franchises are uniform, and in fact they cannot identify the legal relationship behind them. In judicial practice, when consumers have problems, they often sue the headquarters or brand licensors as co-defendants. Since the franchisee is also an independent legal entity, the two parties do not have a subordinate relationship. In this case, according to the relevant provisions of the Civil Code, the third party (consumer) is often required to be in good faith and not at fault, and this case requires further investigation. and understanding the details to draw conclusions.

The reporter reviewed the information and found that regulatory authorities in many places have previously issued illegal fund-raising risk warnings, warning of gold custody scams, and reminding the public that before investing in gold custody products, they must check whether the relevant institutions have issuance or agency qualifications to avoid falling into illegal fund-raising traps, causing property loss.

Fu Xiye, partner lawyer at Beijing Haotian Law Firm: Franchisees use the method of guaranteed principal and interest to attract consumers to participate in custody services, using physical gold as “virtual” collateral. In fact, consumers’ funds do not correspond to specific physical gold. , and there are no guarantee measures or collateral in the legal sense. In fact, franchisees use gold investment as a guise, and their real purpose is to absorb consumers’ funds and then use them for other purposes. Similar illegal fund-raising cases are common in real life.

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