austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Everyone wishes for silver and gold

The Ethiopian government has ordered the National Bank to inspect all the gold held in the National Reserves. A resent consignment from the National Bank to South Africa was returned when it was discovered the gold bars were actually gold-plated steel bars. An investigation soon resulted in the arrest of the person who supplied these `gold' bars to the Ethiopian Bank, as well as arrests of business associates, national bank officials, and some chemists from the Geological Survey of Ethiopia. (It was their job to assay the purchased gold and to attest for its content.)

That by itself is disturbing, but a further investigation found that another batch of gold in the vaults was fake -- the BBC News report doesn't say whether this was also gold-plated steel bars, or whether it was something else -- and in that case it was gold which had been in the reserves for years. It isn't clear at this point (maybe it'll never be clear) whether the fake-gold had been a fraudulent purchase, or whether it had been swapped out over the interim years.

It shows how in some important ways I'm still six years old that my first major thought on reading this was to consider that if this were a Richie Rich comic book, then the discovery that the vault full of gold bars was actually full of gold-painted steel bars would happen around the last page of the story, and so the burglars would throw away the gold bars in disgust, then run off to one of the security traps of the fabulous Rich Estate, probably one involving a huge sack popping out from under the ground and holding them up by a tree trunk. When Richie strolled on stage he'd reveal to whoever his companion(s) that story was/were -- I'm guessing Freckles and Pee-Wee, since it seems like the sort of thing they'd be privy to -- that the steel bars were actually steel-plated gold bars, and this double camouflage of the gold bars was part of the many layers of impish security the Riches favor.

I know the world doesn't really work like that. I'm just saying it should, at least sometimes.

Trivia: The Dutch East India Company's original charter, obtained in 1602, treated its entire 21-year planned existence as a single corporate project. The English East India Company had treated each of its voyages to the far east as separate ventures. Source: The Company: A Short History of a Revolutionary Idea, John Micklethwait, Adrian Wooldridge.

Currently Reading: The Silver Metal Lover, Tanith Lee.


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