Sunday, January 13, 2008
They say money talks, and a new report suggests Canadian currency is indeed chatting, at least electronically, on behalf of shadowy spies.Canadian coins containing tiny transmitters have mysteriously turned up in the pockets of at least three American contractors who visited Canada, says a branch of the U.S. Department of Defence.A U.S. security report says Canadian coins with tiny transmitters have turned up, and could be used to track defence industry personnel.(CBC) Security experts believe the miniature devices could be used to track the movements of defence industry personnel dealing in sensitive military technology."You might want to know where the individual is going, what meetings the individual might be having and, above all, with whom," said David Harris, a former CSIS officer who consults on security matters."The more covert or clandestine the activity in which somebody might be involved, the more significant this kind of information could be."The counter-intelligence office of the U.S. Defence Security Service cites the currency caper as an example of the methods international spies have recently tried to illicitly acquire military technology.
The Canadian mint introduced the mega-coin, which is the size of an extra-large pizza, alongside the one-ounce gold bullion coins it is mass producing at its Ottawa plant.Originally designed to promote the new one-ounce coins, the colossal 100 kg coins will be produced in a very limited quantity. A U.S. precious metals distributor has ordered three and there is interest in Asia and Europe, the mint said.At 53 centimetres (21 inches) in diameter and over 3 cm (1.2 inches) thick, the massive coins need a high level of hand crafting.While it has a C$1 million face value, the coin is worth more than twice that amount given the current gold price of $683.30 an ounce.The new coins are both adorned with a maple leaf and boast 99.999 percent purity, a notch above previous purity peaks of 99.99 percent."Since the Royal Canadian Mint upped the ante on the rest of the world in 1982, by raising the purity of gold bullion to four nines pure (99.99 percent) other nations have come on the scene ... Austria, the United States, and Australia being the case in point," said mint spokesman Alex Reeves."We compete for market share with all of these countries and we decided that the time was right to do something to stand out from the crowd once again."Bullion and refinery services generated almost C$281 million in revenue in 2006, more than half the mint's total sales of almost C$494 million.