Note that the fineness for this bar is 0.9989, which we get a glimpse of that just briefly in the video (click for large version / close up).
As far as we have dug, this bar first appeared in the ETF Securities list on 21st July 2011, which at least gives a window for the timing of Pisani’s mini-documentary – however in all likelihood the bar had been in the vault since it was cast in 2009. The HSBC vault holds gold for other funds, so basically what happened is that the bar which was picked up, just happened to belong to ETF Securities (and not GLD) and no one on the TV crew bothered to check.
This find was a bit of an anti-climax for me, since it dispels the main conspiracy thrust so sought after by most of the commenters at Zero Hedge. The article is not completely without merit, since the gold bar shown did not belong to GLD – so in terms of ‘proving’ the GLD holdings, that’s really sloppy work by Pisani and HSBC. Maybe they showed him the wrong vault? But - the article was great because I would not have seen that video clip otherwise – it reveals a lot about the way HSBC work with that massive repository (for example, it looks like there is not too much physical segregation going on). On a frame-by-frame sequence with the video there are actually a bunch of other serial numbers seen and if I get the time I might match these up as well, but overall we get the picture – namely that HSBC hold a whole stack of gold bars and they don’t all belong to the same fund.
Watching the video sequence a few times, I do think he flips that bar around a bit too quickly though ... 400 ounces is actually really heavy. That thing looks really light :)
P.S. For anyone interested in the Rand Refinery numbering system, according to my book the two-digit and four-number system was first introduced in 1921, and the two letters are chosen at random and get changed once the full 9,999 bars are manufactured for that sequence.