OTTAWA, July 1 (UPI) -- The Royal Canadian Mounted Police has been asked to look into how $19 million of gold bullion came to be unaccounted for at the national mint, officials say.
It was discovered last October that 17,500 troy ounces of gold appeared to be missing at the mint in Ottawa. At that time, the Royal Canadian Mint arranged for an independent review by the accounting firm Deloitte & Touche.
The mint issued a statement Monday saying the discrepancy "does not appear to relate to an accounting error in the reconciliation process, an accounting error in the physical stock count schedules or an accounting error in the record keeping of transactions during the year," the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported.
Christine Aquino, director of communications for the mint, said there were many possible answers to the mystery, including theft. "We're not going to speculate on the cause just yet," she said.
Previously statements issued by the mint had suggested the discrepancy was based on paperwork and accounting procedures, but the auditors' report was enough for two federal ministers to condemn the shortfall and question the mint's management, the Globe and Mail reported Tuesday.
In a joint statement Monday night, Transport Minister John Baird and Minister of State for Transport Rob Merrifield were scornful.
"The mint's still unexplained loss of precious metals is inexcusable," the statement said. "The mint will be held accountable."
The government said the mint will be required to report on inventory of all precious metals on a quarterly basis. Additionally, all bonuses payable to executives are being withheld until the investigation is completed.