The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) has decided there is no evidence of theft in the mystery of the missing gold and silver from the Royal Canadian Mint. The Mint noted the shortage in October 2008, but it wasn’t until the RCMP was called in June 2009 that the problem became public. The missing gold was valued at $20 million (more now as the price continues to rise).
The criminal investigation is over, says the RCMP. There was simply no theft to be investigated.
The Mint came to the same conclusion after physical security, technical processes and prior period accounting were reviewed with the help of independent experts. The review reports will be made public in December 2009, once the audit of the Mint’s 2008 financial statements is completed by the Auditor General.
All the Mint has to show for its efforts is some egg on its face. No gold was spirited out by employees, lost in effluent discharges or heisted in a daring robbery. The shortage appears to be an error brought to light when the Mint introduced new accounting protocols.
The majority of respondents reached the same conclusion much faster and at far less cost when we polled CMJ readers on the topic in June. “Accounting error” thought 64% of them. “Brilliant heist” thought the rest.
The loss of so much gold “into thin air” reminds me of the efforts of ancient alchemists, but in reverse. The sorcerers were confident they could turn base metals into gold. But it takes modern computerized accounting to turn gold into nothing.