Strange $180k Theft from Royal Canadian Mint

September 21st, 2016 by

The Royal Canadian Mint (RCM) is alleging that one of its former employees gradually smuggled C$180,000 worth of gold (approximately $136,000 USD) out of the mint. The strange part is how they say he did it: by hiding the gold in his anal cavity.

gold-maple-leafLeston Lawrence, a 35-year-old whose job it was to test the purity of the mint’s gold, is being tried for “theft, laundering the proceeds of crime, possession of stolen property and breach of trust.” Essentially, the RCM is accusing Lawrence of smuggling gold out of the mint and selling it to enrich himself. The alleged crime took place between 2014 and 2015.

However, whether or not Lawrence is found guilty may hinge on the theory of how he pulled off the heist, which several outlets in Canada are reporting as hiding the gold “up his bum,” something mainly associated with drug smuggling.

The judge’s decision in the case, which was heard in Ottawa court, has been deferred until November.

Stranger Things Have Happened

It is materially true that Leston Lawrence sold gold coins and unmarked gold “pucks”—circular chunks of gold from the mint—between November 2014 and March 2015. He sold 18 of the “pucks” without incident, and four more were discovered in his safe deposit box.

burglar robberIt is of course suspicious, though far from damning, that these pieces were unmarked gold. It begs the question: Where did Lawrence get them? Most telling of all, the shape of these pucks perfectly matches the proprietary shape of the spoons used at the RCM to scoop molten gold, something the prosecution convincingly showed in court.

Lawrence was never caught in the act, which makes the case more difficult to prove. It was actually a bank teller who first became suspicious about all of the checks he was depositing from gold buyers; upon realizing where Lawrence worked, the teller alerted the authorities.

The prosecution pointed out that Mr. Lawrence frequently set off metal detectors when leaving work, but then passed the follow-up scan with a handheld wand. Conspicuously, there was also a bottle of Vaseline found in his locker. The most plausible theory that the mint and its prosecutors can put forth is that the gold was smuggled in Lawrence’s rectum.

Heightened Security

The Royal Canadian MintThe defense didn’t miss the opportunity to point out that the mint was seemingly unaware of any theft or missing gold, and likely cannot prove this is even the case. The prosecution must rely on arguing that the gold in Lawrence’s possession could only have come from the mint, and the circumstantial evidence strongly points to him having had access to it. Regardless, the case raises serious questions about the level of security at the Royal Canadian Mint.

A spokesperson for the mint said that the RCM is committed to overhauling its security measures, such as installing a system of HD cameras and developing better methods for tracking its precious metals.

 

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