Thief used phoney document in $20M gold heist, lawsuit against Air Canada claims

On a brisk, drizzly day in April, a thief strolled into Air Canada’s glass−walled warehouse at Pearson airport, presented a phoney document and walked out with some $23 million in gold and cash.

So claims a lawsuit filed against Canada’s largest airline by Brink’s Inc. following a gold heist in Toronto last spring.

In court filings, the American security company says an “unidentified individual” gained access to the airline’s cargo warehouse on April 17 and presented a “fraudulent” waybill — a document typically issued by a carrier with details on the shipment — to Air Canada personnel.

Staff then handed over 400 kilograms of gold — worth roughly 13.6 million Swiss francs, or more than $20 million — plus nearly US$2 million in cash to the thief, who promptly “absconded with the cargo,” the statement of claim says.

Claiming breach of contract, Brink’s is seeking about $23 million in damages, as well as special damages and costs.

The phoney document was actually a copy of an “airway bill respecting an unrelated shipment,” according to the suit, filed in Federal Court on Friday and first reported by Glen McGregor on Substack.

The suit says Air Canada was “negligent” and failed to follow through on “appropriate security measures” to prevent theft of the cargo.

The airline declined to comment on the matter as it is before the courts. The carrier has not yet filed a statement of defence, and the claims have not been tested in court.

A pair of Swiss companies — precious metals refinery Valcambi SA and retail bank Raiffeisen Schweiz — contracted Brink’s to provide security and logistics for the pricey packages — gold and cash, respectively — and compensate them for any losses, according to the suit.

Brink’s arranged in mid−April for Air Canada to haul the cargo to Toronto from Zurich. It was delivered at Pearson just before 4 p.m. on April 17, deposited at an on−site Air Canada warehouse at 5:50 p.m. and retrieved by the mysterious thief, who showed up about 40 minutes later, the filings state.

A police investigation is ongoing, with no arrests so far and the shipments still at large, according to the claim.

banner image: The Canadian Press