Trading losses at Royal Mint hit £6.5m

Link: Treasury to expand Bourn’s powers

Temporary controls designed to prevent the loss of coins were in force but proved inadequate to stop part of £40,000 in notes, due to be included in the packs, from walking.

A police investigation failed to solve the crime but found two keys for the safe concerned in the ‘gold store’ of the collector coins’ division were not held securely. The safe was badly located and often left open during the day, and there were no periodic stock checks for 11 months, the report said.

The investigation was carried out by Ministry of Defence police, who guard the site. The loss was discovered during a stock check in December.

The embarrassing theft from what was supposed to be a highly secure site, is in addition to allegations of improper payments, being investigated by the Serious Fraud Office. The SFO is also investigating a breach of contract claim for £5.4m in damages from a private sector rival, the Birmingham Mint.

Comptroller and auditor general Sir John Bourn warned that because of the losses – for the second year in succession – ‘the Mint now faces a challenging and painful period of restructuring as it seeks to return to overall profitability’.

He said its declining performance was largely a result of a highly competitive global market.

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