Mounties to probe Canada’s missing gold

OTTAWA (AFP) — The Canadian government is investigating the disappearance of an amount of gold and precious metals from the Royal Canadian Mint and has asked the federal police to probe a possible heist.

Minister of State for Transport Rob Merrifield said Tuesday he called in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) to conduct a “full investigation.”

External auditors had been ordered to investigate a discrepancy between the mint’s 2008 financial accounting of its precious metal holdings and its actual stockpile. Many had expected the audit would point to sloppy bookkeeping.

The investigation was ordered after mint officials said the audit would not be able to reconcile the discrepancy.

“As soon as they instructed me this morning that it looked like the audit wasn’t going to tell us everything we need to know and be able to rectify the numbers, I thought it was important to bring the RCMP in,” Merrifield said.

But he declined to say how much gold, silver or other precious metals were unaccounted for.

Opposition parties, however, criticized the government for the mint’s possible loss of tens of millions of dollars worth of gold.

“How is it conceivable that we can lose tens of millions of dollars in gold from the Royal Canadian Mint, and nobody notices until they finally start calling the accountants,” said opposition New Democrat MP Thomas Mulcair.

“If they can’t even hold onto the gold in the Mint, what are they capable of doing?” he said, adding: “It now appears that it’s gone beyond bad accounting.”