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Elaborate fake gold bar sparks investigation by RBC and police

Section: Daily Dispatches

By Vito Pilieci
Ottawa Citizen
Monday, October 30, 2017

RBC Royal Bank is working with police to investigate allegations that one of its branches on Bank Street sold a gold bullion 1-ounce bar that turned out to be an elaborate counterfeit.

CBC reported today that on Oct. 18 Samuel Tang walked into the bank, located at the corner of Bank Street and First Avenue, to buy a 1-ounce gold bar. Tang is a gemologist and jewelry designer who works across the road at Joy Creations. The small bar he was provided looked as if it had come from the Royal Canadian Mint, but upon closer inspection, it was found to be a fake.

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Alex Reeves, a spokesman for the Royal Canadian Mint, said experts from the federal agency have inspected the bar in question and found it to be a rather elaborate fake. Reeves said the mint has seen fake coins and bullion in the past; however, they are usually of poor quality. He said that whoever made this counterfeit bar tried to copy an older mint design that is no longer in circulation. He said even the wrapper the bar came in was forged by someone.

Reeves said the bar did not come from the mint. Gold is purified at the mint, then immediately used to make coins and bullion, which are sealed in official casings before being sent to distributors. He said the mint is very proud of its reputation as one of the world's leading refiners of gold and silver and has numerous layers of security in place to prevent counterfeits from making their way into the supply chain.

How RBC ended up with the fake bar is something that Reeves would not speculate about.

AJ Goodman, a spokesman with RBC, said the bank is working closely with police to determine how the counterfeit bar made its way into the bank’s inventory.

"This matter is now with law enforcement for further investigation," he said. "Instances of counterfeit objects making their way into our inventory are extremely rare. Upon discovering these objects, we immediately investigate to determine the source of the object and engage the appropriate authorities. In all instances we work closely with our clients to keep them informed and to reach a potential resolution."

Goodman also said that RBC gets its gold from many sources, including the mint, and that the bank guarantees the purity of the products it sells.

Attempts to reach the jewelry designer Tang today for comment were unsuccessful. Tang is traveling to Hong Kong to visit with family for the next three weeks.

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