The Vancouver Sun reports that not just gold missing from mint; hunt also on for silver, platinum.
(emphasis mine) [my comment]
Not just gold missing from mint; hunt also on for silver, platinum
By Ian MacLeod, The Ottawa CitizenJuly 3, 2009
OTTAWA - More than just a fortune in gold is missing from the Royal Canadian Mint. Silver, platinum and palladium have disappeared, too, but the mint won't say how much.
Independent audit results released this week found no accounting, bookkeeping or other internal errors to account for about 17,500 troy ounces of gold missing from the mints inventory, the equivalent of almost 44, 400-ounce bars valued at $15.3 million.
The probe by Deloitte briefly notes the mint has "also identified an unaccounted-for difference related to silver," and asked auditors to determine if sloppy accounting or bookkeeping was behind that, too.
Christine Aquino, mint spokeswoman, said in an e-mail the missing $15.3 million in gold, "takes into account ... all our (missing) precious metal, gold being the most significant component but also including silver, platinum and palladium metals."
The suggestion is the amounts are minor, though the mint declined requests to elaborate on the quantities involved.
Meanwhile, speculation is mounting over how to sneak half a ton of gold out of the fortress-like mint headquarters on Sussex Drive, supposedly one of the most secure buildings in Canada.
The bulk of it, 16,494 ounces, disappeared from the gold refinery on the north side of the historic stone building, which is wired with metal detection and monitoring equipment that scans employees exiting the high security area.
According to employees and visitors, one of the detectors creates computerized profiles of any metals in an individual's body, such as dental work and heart stents. If the person's signature profile does not match with the metal scan as they exit the high security zone where precious metals are handled, guards are alerted.
"The first time I went through, I had a one-cent coin in my wallet and they found that," says Bret Evans, managing editor of Canadian Coin News. "They X-rayed my wallet. It was just a simple penny and they gave it physical security to ensure that it was in fact a genuine one-cent coin, not a piece of gold that I'd painted or anything like that."
Beyond the scanning equipment, "to get to where the gold is, you've still got to go through a bunch of guys who make it their job to make sure nothing gets out," he says. "So security is pretty impressive. Having said that, its not a perfect situation."
That was the case in 1996 when a mint machinist smuggled 85 ounces of almost pure gold worth about $37,000 past the metal detectors, surveillance cameras and electronic sensors. A charge of theft against the man was later dropped for unexplained reasons and the mint was spared the humiliation of a trial that would have explained how the man beat the elaborate security system.
The mint has experienced other thefts, though nothing like the prospect it now faces if it's determined the missing gold is due to theft.
In 1988, a 23-year veteran janitor at the Sussex Drive plant stole at least $30,000 in gold, bit by bit. The man worked in an area where objects that come into contact with liquid gold, such as tools, are crushed and recycled so the gold can be recovered. Police found he had more than $150,000 in unexplained income between 1985 and 1988.
The biggest gold heist in Canada remains the 1974 Ottawa airport theft by the Stop Watch Gang headed by Paddy Mitchell, the most infamous hood to come out of Ottawa. In an article he wrote for this newspaper in 2000, Mitchell revealed how the trio stole more than $750,000 in gold from the Ottawa airport and en route to the mint.
"We needed an inside man who could tell us when the gold arrived and how much there was," Mitchell wrote. "The guy I recruited worked on the night shift and was a petty thief who had been stealing things at the airport for years — mostly nickel-and-dime stuff.
"We had to get past an armed guard into a locked warehouse, break into a security room, lug out six gold bars weighing 65 pounds each and hope that the RCMP or the city police didn't drive by the busy access road and notice something amiss.
"Minutes later the guard's head was covered and he was handcuffed to a steel bar. Stephen (Reid) let Lionel (Wright) in through the door, the gold bars were loaded into the car and they hit it down the road with the car 4,380 troy ounces heavier than it was when it arrived. At least, that's what know-it-all journalists and book authors wrote. The truth is we just re-labelled the boxes in the cargo area and Air Canada very generously delivered them to us in Windsor the next day.
"I shipped five bars of gold across the Windsor-Detroit border, collected $250,000 cash as a downpayment and got a promise of another $250,000 when (a middleman fence) sold the gold. I never saw another dime from it."
Mitchell was convicted in 1977 on that and other crimes, and sentenced to 17 years behind bars. He escaped from a Kingston prison two years later. He died in a U.S. prison in 2007.
Before the Stop Watch Gang, the "Flying Bandit" is believed to have held the Canadian gold theft record. Winnipegger Ken Leishman, a bush pilot-turned-bandit, staged a series of bank and other robberies in the '60s and '70s, escaping from police in a small plane.
In March 1966, he and two accomplices dressed in Air Canada overalls pulled up to a small plane that has just landed with a reported 360 kilograms of gold ingots being delivered to the mint's Winnipeg plant. Leishman signed a receipt and the men drove off with the gold, valued at $400,000.
Globally, the biggest gold theft in modern times remains the 1983 London Heathrow Brinks Mat job. More than three tonnes of gold ingots, then worth about 26 million pounds sterling or $110 million Cdn based on today's price of gold, were stolen by six armed men dressed in security uniforms.
The suspects burst into the security company's Heathrow Airport depot the morning of Nov. 26, 1983, disarmed a security system, doused two guards with gasoline and threatened to set them on fire unless they revealed the combination to a vault.
Expecting to find cash, they instead found the gold packed into 76 cardboard boxes, plus two boxes of diamonds.
A handful of men were arrested and imprisoned, including another warehouse guard who gave the gang inside information. But police believe as many as 15 suspects were in on the heist, some of whom retired to luxurious European homes and villas.
The BBC reports some of the gold simply vanished into a criminal underworld and reappeared in foreign bank accounts in Luxembourg, Switzerland, the Cayman Islands, Miami and the Bahamas. Much remains missing today. It is claimed in some quarters that anyone wearing gold jewelry bought in the United Kingdom after 1983 is probably wearing Brinks Mat.
My reaction: More than just a fortune in gold is missing fr
om the Royal Canadian Mint. Silver, platinum and palladium have disappeared too.
1) Independent audit results released this week found no accounting, bookkeeping or other internal errors to account for about 17,500 troy ounces of gold missing from the mints inventory.
2) Speculation is mounting over how to sneak half a ton of gold out of the fortress-like mint headquarters on Sussex Drive, supposedly one of the most secure buildings in Canada.
3) Although, gold was the most significant component, silver, platinum and palladium metals are missing too.
Conclusion: If half a ton of gold could disappear from one of the most secure buildings in Canada, then couldn't it the same thing happen in the US? Isn't it about time for US gold reserves to be audited?