How $17.2 million in gold and cash disappeared from Toronto airport | ET REALITY

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For six months, the disappearance of $17.2 million in gold bars and cash from a warehouse at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport has remained a mystery. Now, a lawsuit has given the public insight into the robbery victim’s view.

In April, Peel Regional Police, responsible for the airport, announced that a special container containing valuable goods was unloaded from a plane, placed in a warehouse and then disappeared. Police seemed bewildered at the time and offered no further information, such as who the container belonged to or even the name of the airline that brought it into the country.

(Read: $14.8 million in gold and valuables disappear from Toronto airport)

While the case remains unsolved, a lawsuit has filled in several of the blanks surrounding the robbery with still-unproven allegations. The lawsuit was brought by Brink’s, the armored car company hired to move the cash and gold bars from Switzerland to Canada, against Air Canada, which flew and stored the high-value cargo container.

According to a statement of claim that Brink’s and two of its subsidiaries filed in the Federal Court of Canada, the cash and gold were two separate shipments traveling together. The 53 kilograms of cash worth $1.9 million were sent by a Swiss bank to a Vancouver-based exchange house. The 400 kilograms of gold bars worth 13.6 million Swiss francs, or $15.3 million, were headed to Toronto-Dominion Bank from a precious metals refinery in Switzerland. (The value of the load is slightly higher than the police’s initial estimate). Brink’s said it was responsible to the shippers to cover any losses if the gold and cash went missing.

Brink’s paid a premium, such as a flat handling fee and a percentage of the cargo value, to send the shipment through a special Air Canada service called AC Secure that the airline says provides greater security and prioritizes shipping. to the charge. and download.

Air Canada Flight 881 from Zurich landed in Toronto a few minutes earlier, at 3:56 p.m. About 24 minutes later, the gold and cash were off the plane, and by 5:50 p.m. they were in an Air Canada warehouse. Canada for goods awaiting customs inspection. .

About 40 minutes later, according to the court record, an “unidentified individual” entered the warehouse.

“No security protocols or features were implemented to monitor, restrict or otherwise regulate the unidentified individual’s access to the facility,” Brink maintains.

But the mystery person did not pull out a gun or use force to enter the area where the gold and cash were waiting. Instead, the person’s only weapon was a piece of paper. According to Brink’s, the person showed Air Canada employees at the warehouse a consignment note for “an unrelated shipment.”

Brink’s maintains that Air Canada employees made no attempt to verify the validity of that bill of lading and handed over the gold and cash to the person, who “absconded with the cargo.”

None of this has been proven in court. Air Canada did not respond to a series of questions I sent. A lawyer for Brink’s referred me to his client, who also did not respond.

The court record suggests that Air Canada employees or people posing as Air Canada employees were involved. Without offering any details, Brink’s accuses the airline of “failing to ensure that employee credentials are not susceptible to fraud and/or misuse.” The company also maintains that Air Canada failed to “verify the reliability and adequate training of all staff and third parties who maintain access to high-value shipments on its behalf.”

Ultimately, the lawsuit is not about how the robbery was carried out. Under international settlements on lost and stolen luggage and cargo, Brink’s could expect to recover less than 1 percent of the missing $17.2 million (a familiar situation to anyone who has ever lost luggage on a foreign flight). But Brink’s maintains that the additional fees it paid for the secure service mean Air Canada must now refund it for the full amount of the missing money and gold. The court will have to rule on that argument, as well as on Brink’s request for damages and legal costs.

I spoke briefly with a spokesperson for Peel Regional Police, who declined to comment on the security company’s description of events. As for the six-month investigation, he said the force had nothing new to add.


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  • David Leonhardt analyzes Israeli, Palestinian and American reactions to the Gaza hospital explosion this week, in contrast to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s unwillingness to reveal the intelligence behind his claim that India was involved in the assassination of a Sikh leader in British Columbia.


Originally from Windsor, Ontario, Ian Austen was educated in Toronto, lives in Ottawa and has reported on Canada for The New York Times for two decades.


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