Deja Vu All Over Again As Two Kilos Of Gold Go Missing From The Royal Canadian Mint

Granted, these are two one-kilo bars, so it’s most likely they weren’t stolen in the same way as before. Here’s the details…

by Kelly Egan via Ottawa Citizen

Two kilograms of gold have gone missing from the Royal Canadian Mint, three years after an employee repeatedly — and with international notoriety — stole chunks of the precious metal by hiding it in his rectum.

The mint confirmed Thursday that an employee has been fired and the RCMP called after the discovery of the missing gold, two one-kilogram blanks, together worth about $110,000.

“Last month, as a result of robust internal inventory processes, employees of the Royal Canadian Mint reported a small amount of gold missing from the premises,” Alison Crawford, the senior manager of public affairs, wrote in an email Thursday.

“At the conclusion of an internal investigation and administrative review, the mint terminated the employment of one of its staff and asked the RCMP to investigate.”

She stressed that “incidents of this nature” are “very uncommon,” especially given the large volumes of gold and other precious metals handled at the Sussex Drive facility.

“Our vigorous security measures and protocols are subject to ongoing scrutiny and evaluation, and the mint remains committed to managing risks to our products and facilities.”

The admission from the mint comes 15 months after employee Leston Lawrence, then 35, was sentenced to 30 months in prison for stealing about $190,000 worth of gold nuggets by stuffing them in his rectum.

Lawrence, an operator in the mint’s refinery section, was convicted Nov. 9, 2016 of stealing 22 gold “pucks” during a three-month period that began in December 2014, then reselling them and spending the proceeds.

Though the method of escape was never proven, the mint and the judge were satisfied Lawrence must have hidden the pucks — about the diameter of a golf ball — in his rectum as he exited the secure area after his shift.

The theory was bolstered by the discovery of Vaseline and latex gloves in his personal locker and the fact he set off an archway metal detector 28 times in 41 days, though no gold was ever found on his person.

The mint declined any further comment Thursday, citing the police investigation.

This newspaper asked the RCMP for comment on its investigation but no reply was forthcoming.

Lawrence’s trial provided a rare look into security at the mint, where about 1,000 employees daily pass through a high-end metal detector sophisticated enough to pick up a paper clip. A security analyst at the Crown corporation testified that, in his 12-year career, he recalled about five occasions in which employees were caught attempting to exit the fortress-like building with gold.

The mint is equipped with more than 200 security cameras but court was told there were only two in the large area where Lawrence was working, a section that had many “dead zones” where staff were out of view. And because the mint buys used gold, then melts and re-works it, there was always a discrepancy between the weight at the beginning and end of the refining process.

As a consequence, the mint didn’t even know it was missing gold during his months-long escapade. It was only an alert bank teller that exposed the scheme when she red-flagged the large cheques Lawrence was depositing from a gold-buying shop.

The mint handles huge volumes of gold and silver. In 2016, it had revenues of $2.6 billion and sold more than a million ounces of gold bullion, producing more than 1.6 billion coins for markets around the world.