Fake document used to access Air Canada facility, steal $23M in gold, banknotes: lawsuit

Click to play video: 'Brink’s sues Air Canada over $23M Toronto gold and cash heist'
Brink’s sues Air Canada over $23M Toronto gold and cash heist
WATCH: Armoured car company Brink’s is suing Air Canada for more than $20 million. The legal action follows the theft of gold and cash from a cargo warehouse at Toronto Pearson Airport, where Air Canada was supposed to be providing enhanced protection. As Sean O’Shea reports, the lawsuit alleges that someone with fake documents was able to get the loot by pretending he had authority. – Oct 11, 2023

Brink’s, Inc. has filed a lawsuit against Air Canada (AC) for failing to provide safe and secure handling of shipments of 13,612,696.75 in Swiss Francs and gold bars valued at US$1,945,843.00 (an approximate total of C$23 million).

In April of this year, the valuable shipments landed at Toronto Pearson International Airport and were stolen shortly thereafter.

A subsequent police investigation has not turned up the goods or the culprits. Brink’s, meanwhile, has decided to pursue the matter in the Federal Court, filing a Statement of Claim in Toronto on Oct. 6.

This shipments were handled by AC Secure, states the claim. Quoting the AC Secure website, Brink’s says it’s an Air Canada service intended to provide enhanced safety for “high-value shipments” such as “secured holding areas” supervised by third-party security guards.

The shipments took shape in April 2023, when Raiffeisen Schweiz, a Swiss retail bank, contracted Brink’s to transport a shipment of banknotes with a value of$1,945,843 USD, from Zurich to Toronto. Valcambi SA, a precious metals refining company based in Switzerland, also contracted Brink’s to transport a shipment of gold with a value of 13,612,696.75 Swiss Francs, from Zurich to Toronto.

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The contracts for both required Brink’s to indemnify Raiffeisen and Valcambi for any losses.

AC acknowledged receipt and acceptance of the shipments via reply emails dated April 14, reads the claim, confirming the logistics and the use of AC Secure protocols.

The shipments were delivered to AC in Zurich and loaded on the flight, landing in Toronto at approximately 15:56 p.m. on April 17, 2023, states the claim, adding, they were offloaded at approximately 16:20 and deposited at the AC Bonded Warehouse in Toronto at approximately 17:50.

“At approximately 18:32, an unidentified individual gained access to AC’s cargo storage facilities. No security protocols or features were in place to monitor, restrict or otherwise regulate the unidentified individual’s access to the facilities. Once inside, the unidentified individual presented (a) copy of an airway bill (to AC personnel ) respecting an unrelated shipment … AC personnel released the shipments to the unidentified individual, following which the…individual absconded with the cargo,” reads the claim.

“AC accepted the fraudulent waybill from the unidentified individual without verifying its authenticity in any way. Had AC made the necessary and appropriate inquiries in the circumstances, the unidentified individual’s ability to steal the cargo entrusted to its care would have been entirely avoided.” In so doing, alleges Brink’s, “AC was reckless in its operation of the AC Secure program. Despite contracting to provide ‘secured holding areas’ and ‘special handling’ for all high-value shipments, AC failed to enlist reasonable and appropriate security measures and protocols to prevent the theft of the Shipments.”

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In “negligently and carelessly implementing” the AC Secure Program, AC breached its contractual obligations to Brink’s and is therefore, “liable to Brink’s for the full value of the shipments”.

Brink’s told Global News in a statement shortly after the heist occurred that it was working “with law enforcement officials on their investigation”.

If assets are lost at “any point during transfer, we reimburse our customers in accordance with our contract terms,” said Dana Callahan, vice-president of corporate communications at Brink’s.

Brink’s is now turning to Air Canada to make the losses right. The airline has not yet filed a Statement of Defence, states Brink’s. On April 27, 2023, the company provided written notice to AC of the losses sustained as a result of the theft and demanded “full reimbursement”.

However, Brink’s states that as of the filing date of the claim, there was no response from Air Canada.

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