Even the world's most advanced and experienced precious metal refiners occasionally had breaches of security. This seems to be the case in a story reported by CoinWeek about Australia's Perth Mint, one of the most successful government mints in the world. The mint appears to be the victim of theft in the form of a brazen "inside job" by an independent contractor.
Missing Gold Bar
Security is always a major concern or any gold refiner. It's an unavoidable issue given the high value and tangible nature of the product being sold. Perth Mint would know plenty about that: during its 2015-2016 accounting period, the mint sold over 16 million coins, bars, and other minted precious metal items, valued collectively at $1.3 billion! As a refinery, Perth saw nearly 34 million ounces of gold and silver throughput during the one-year period, which encompassed 94% of the gold doré (unrefined gold bars directly from the mines) in all of Australia. By a variety of measures, Gold Corporation (which runs Perth Mint with the government of Western Australia) had its most profitable year on record.
Still, there are always vulnerabilities that slip through the cracks. Just ask Germany's Bode Museum, which was recently robbed of a 100-kilo gold coin!
The mint became aware that 1 kilogram of gold had gone missing in early April. Such a gold bar is valued north of $50,000—a drop in the bucket compared to the financial numbers referenced above, but still nothing to sneeze at.
Investigators followed a lead and secured a search warrant for the residence of a young contractor that had been working at the mint. The search indeed produced a 1-kg gold bar in the suspect's home.
The contractor has been charged not only with fraud, but also with "stealing as a servant," which carries a greater penalty due to the perceived violation of trust between employer and employee.
Like its peer the Royal Canadian Mint, a number of leading private refiners like PAMP Suisse and Sunshine Minting, as well as other firms in the industry, Perth Mint continues to research and implement the very best ways to produce the most secure gold product possible.
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