US Coins

Monday Morning Brief for Aug. 16, 2021: Treasury OIG investigation

Collectors have long complained about how the U.S. Mint handles sales of limited-edition coins like the 2021-S Morgan dollar. The Treasury Office of Inspector General may be ready to investigate Mint practices.

Original images courtesy of the United States Mint.

The announcement that the Treasury Department’s Office of Inspector General may investigate the United States Mint’s handling of sales of limited-edition numismatic products is the best news we have reported in a long time.

Most of you reading Coin World every week know that many collectors are dissatisfied with the Mint’s sales of coins like the 2021 Morgan and Peace dollars, this year’s sets and individual offerings of American Eagle numismatic and bullion coins, and too many other products to list.

Over the years, I have spoken to dozens, probably hundreds, of collectors or read their email as they complain how a particular sales launch was conducted.

Frequently, collectors accuse the Mint of catering to dealers over collectors, or even actively making sure the majority of a particular coin or set goes to the big-ticket retailers and wholesalers.

The implementation earlier this year of the Authorized Bulk Purchase Program, which allows qualifying dealers to purchase select numismatic products before sales open to the general public, and the Mint’s refusal to publicly identify the participants, has only reinforced this belief.

Every major department in the executive branch has an Office of Inspector General. The office is supposed to be independent and is led by an appointed inspector general. As described at the Treasury OIG website, “The Inspector General is required to keep both the Secretary and the Congress fully and currently informed about the problems and deficiencies relating to the administration of department programs and operations and the necessity for corrective action.”

Corrective action is clearly needed. An agency cannot continue to anger the people it serves time and again without penalty or changes to the questionable practices.

Here are some things we would like to know:

Have there been back-door, off-the-book dealings with retailers and wholesalers?

What is the rationale for establishing the Authorized Bulk Purchase Program and who are the qualifying dealers?

How does the marketing department determine pricing for Mint products?

Has the Mint identified the entities using bots to circumvent household limits?

How does the Mint determine a product’s household-order limit?

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