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Air Canada employees are suspects in Toronto airport gold heist

18th April 2024

By: Bloomberg

  

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Police have named Air Canada employees among the suspects in the theft of 6 600 gold bars from a cargo facility at the country’s busiest airport, in what’s been dubbed Canada’s largest-ever gold heist.

Police in Peel Region, a Toronto suburb, identified nine individuals they believe were involved in the crime and have arrested five men and issued nationwide warrants for three others. The alleged driver of the five-ton truck that hauled away the huge shipment of gold and banknotes is in custody in the US, a police detective said.

One of the Air Canada employees, a 54-year-old man named Parmpal Sidhu, was arrested and charged with theft over C$5 000 and conspiracy to commit an indictable offense. Police said they’re still looking for Simran Preet Panesar, 31, who also worked for the Montreal-based airline at the time and is facing the same charges.

The saga began when a Swiss bank and a precious metals refining company hired Brink’s to move valuables from Zurich to Toronto. The shipment included about 400 kg of gold — worth about C$20-million at the time, police said — plus some C$2.5-million in banknotes of a variety of currencies.

Brink’s arranged Air Canada to fly the valuables to Canada, and the plane landed at Toronto Pearson International Airport on the afternoon of April 17, 2023, a year ago today. The gold bars and bills were then hauled to a cargo facility where, at around 6:30 p.m., a driver showed up in a white truck with a fraudulent document to claim the shipment.

That document, police said, was a duplicate of an air waybill for a seafood shipment that had been picked up the day before, Detective Sergeant Mike Mavity told reporters at a Wednesday news conference. The waybill had been printed within Air Canada’s facilities.

A short time later, a forklift loaded the large container of gold and currency onto the truck. When Brink’s employees showed up three hours later to collect the cargo, they were told it was missing.

“This story is a sensational one and one which, probably, we jokingly say, belongs in a Netflix series,” Peel Police Chief Nishan Duraiappah said at the conference.

In October, Brink’s sued Air Canada, accusing the country’s largest airline of “negligence and carelessness.” Air Canada rejected the allegations. A spokesperson for the airline didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Almost none of the money has been recovered, though police did seize about C$430 000 in Canadian currency and six gold bracelets worth about C$89 000.

Edited by Bloomberg

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