Did $78 billion in gold exports from South Africa really go missing? Nope. As taxes rise, so does trade misinvoicing. This confusing term is actually a method for moving money across borders, primarily to avoid taxes.
The Global Financial Integrity Group claims that $465.3 billion was underreported in 2004. They argue that this figure rose to just over $1,090.1 billion in 2013. They attribute this to crime, claiming the number one actor is money laundering by criminals or public officials who may seek to launder the proceeds from crime or corruption. This is highly questionable and turns on their definition of a “criminal” since everyone breaks the law in some manner.
So if you send a gift to a friend in Germany for their birthday and place a value of $500 on it, then your friend will have to go down to the government and pay a tax to receive the gift. If you claim the value is $10, well, you have just entered the dark corner of criminal activity defined as trade misinvoicing.
The amount of gold that has come to the market is much higher than suspected, simply because there is an undervaluing on invoices. Likewise, to help the Japanese reduce their trade surplus with the United States during the 1990s, we directed them to buy gold on the COMEX, take delivery, and export it to Japan. That then entered the gross trade balance and reduced the appearance of a surplus. It is all just a numbers game. If you understand the accounting system, that is 99% of the game.