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Gold unaccounted for at Canadian Mint

OTTAWA, June 3 (UPI) -- External auditors are trying to determine whether theft or accounting is behind missing gold and silver at the Canadian Mint in Ottawa, officials said.

Responding to a query from the Ottawa Citizen, spokeswoman Christine Aquino refused to specify quantities, but acknowledged the audit was under way.

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"An unprecedented demand in gold in 2008 has led to an unreconciled difference between the mint's financial statements and the physical count of precious metals," Aquino said. "There's a difference there that we're looking into."

The Citizen said it wasn't known what triggered the audit or when.

The mint is one of the world's leading gold and silver refineries, turning out almost 2.8 million Troy ounces of refined gold in 2007 in its three operations that produce Canadian coinage, coinage for other countries and collectibles.

In 1996, a machinist at the mint was arrested and charged with stealing 85 ounces of near-pure gold. For unexplained reasons, the charges against him were later dropped, the newspaper said.

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