Allegedly Baked Bills a Matter of National Security, Says Canada's Central Bank

By Bronskill, Jim | The Canadian Press, January 1, 2013 | Go to article overview

Allegedly Baked Bills a Matter of National Security, Says Canada's Central Bank


Bronskill, Jim, The Canadian Press


Allegedly baked bills a matter of security

--

OTTAWA - Disclosing details of behind-the-scenes discussions about tales of melting banknotes could endanger national security or international relations, says Canada's central bank.

In response to a formal request from The Canadian Press, the Bank Of Canada released 134 pages of internal records -- almost completely blanked out -- concerning allegations its new polymer bills melted in the scorching summer sun.

The bank began issuing $100 polymer banknotes in late 2011, saying they were harder to counterfeit than paper notes and would last much longer. It has since released $50 and $20 notes, with $10 and $5 ones due this year.

Unconfirmed reports of cooked currency emerged in July when a Kelowna, B.C., bank teller said she had heard of cases in which several bills had melted together inside a car. Soon after, a photo of scorched $100 bills surfaced in Ontario -- purportedly after they were stored in a metal can next to a baseboard heater.

The bank swiftly denied that its new bills could be affected by heat in these ways.

The records released under the Access to Information Act show the reports stirred up not only a flurry of media interest but a series of emails over more than a week among bank officials, including Gerry Gaetz, the chief of currency, and Erik Balodis, a scientific adviser.

The bank declined to make Gaetz available for an interview.

In an emailed response to questions, bank spokesman Jeremy Harrison said the institution has seen nothing since the reports first emerged to change its initial assessment.

"The Bank stands by its statements made this summer that polymer bank notes cannot be affected by the types and levels of heat as has been suggested in last summer's news reports, and has seen no evidence to the contrary," Harrison said.

He noted the bank had performed "extensive and rigorous tests" prior to issuing the notes, including exposing them to extremes of 140 C and -75 C.

But the bank isn't willing to reveal much about its internal deliberations concerning the allegedly baked bills. Almost all of the pages released under the access law -- with the exception of some email headers and previously processed media lines -- were blank.

The bank invoked eight sections of the Access Act to withhold this material, invoking exemptions relating to:

-- confidences obtained from another government;

-- injury to international relations, defence or security;

-- facilitation of an offence;

-- injury to the financial interests of a government institution or the ability of the government to manage the economy, or provision of an undue benefit to someone;

-- personal privacy;

-- confidential information supplied by a third party;

-- advice from officials or accounts of deliberations;

-- testing and auditing procedures. …

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