Air Canada recently spoke out, denying responsibility for the theft event that occurred at its cargo facility back in April. Cargo containing over $20 million worth of gold bars and cash was stolen from an Air Canada jet shortly after it arrived in Toronto.
Brink’s, the security transportation company in charge of the cargo, has filed a lawsuit against Air Canada for the missing 24 bars of gold. Air Canada has denied all allegations based on negligence on Brink’s end, given that the company allowed an unauthorized and unknown person to pick up the delivery less than an hour after it arrived. Air Canada also claims that Brink’s shipped the gold without initially declaring its value, insuring it, or paying to secure it, all of which would be common practices for commodities of this value.
“Brink’s Switzerland Ltd. did not request from or pay to Air Canada for any insurance with respect to the cargo carried under this air waybill nor, to Air Canada’s knowledge, did Brink’s Switzerland Ltd. obtain any such insurance at all,” Air Canada stated in its defense. “Brink’s Switzerland Ltd. elected for its own reasons not to declare a value for carriage and to pay the standard rate for the AC Secure services product and, to Air Canada’s knowledge, elected not to insure these shipments. Brink’s Switzerland Ltd. did so of its own volition and while fully aware of the consequences.”
Both parties may disagree on who was in the wrong, but they do agree on one factor: the cargo was certainly on that flight, and it is now gone. Peel Regional Police officially announced the theft in April when the Air Canada flight arrived in Toronto with missing cargo. The gold has yet to be found, and no arrests have been made.
Given the details surrounding the theft, most have wrapped the situation up to be a gold heist.
Air Canada’s defense statement explains that Brink’s booked two AC Secure shipments with the airline, one for the gold bars and one for bulk cash. AC Secure shipments include extra security, special handling, high-priority loading, and faster retrievals.
In the initial shipment, Brink’s described the cargo as 24 400.19-kilogram gold bars but did not indicate a total value for the cargo. Air Canada also states that Brink’s never claimed an insurance value on the customs declaration or either waybill. Brink’s did not declare a value for the bulk cash either.
Brink’s claims that the cash totaled $1,945,843 and was shipped by Raiffeisen Schweiz, a Swiss bank. The security transportation company claims that the gold bars were valued at $20.4 million and were shipped by a Swiss-based precious metals refining company, Valcambi SA. Both cargo containers were carried on one flight (Air Canada Flight AC881) on April 17 from Zurich to Toronto.
While Brink’s may not have conducted all of its due diligence, the security company claims that Air Canada does not have the proper security in place. The lawsuit against Air Canada claims that the assets were easily stolen because of the airline’s poor security policies. Brink’s claims that anyone could easily walk into Air Canada’s cargo facility with a forged waybill to steal millions’ worth of assets.
Within 42 minutes of the plane landing, unloading, and transferring to the warehouse, the gold and cash were gone. Air Canada understands the timeline and the ease at which the cargo was stolen but argues that the security issues stem from the shipper’s lack of proper due diligence. Air Canada strictly denies any lapses in security at its cargo facility, though it does not address exactly how the theft may have occurred.
At this point, Brink’s is attempting to recover the costs of the stolen gold and cash from Air Canada through the lawsuit, as the company’s contracts require it to reimburse losses to its clients. The lawsuit has been escalated to the federal level because of the conflict’s international scale.
The Montreal Convention regulates international shipments under Canadian Law, though Air Canada believes Brink’s claim will be excluded from the convention’s protection given its monetary limit. The Montreal Convention has a monetary limit on special cargo protection unless special arrangements have been made, and according to Air Canada, Brink’s did not go through the steps to fall under this category.
The events unfolding between Air Canada and Brink’s display a greater transparency discrepancy happening within the gold industry. Numerous instances of illegal gold trading continue arising, with organizations now cracking down to prevent such issues from continuing. The theft incident on Air Canada’s flight may open the conversation up to further enhance supply chain transparency and security.