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Peel Police Inspector Stephen Duivesteyn speaks to the media regarding a theft at Toronto Pearson International Airport on April 20. Brink's is suing Air Canada over a $23.7-million heist at Pearson airport last spring.Arlyn McAdorey/The Canadian Press

Air Canada is fighting back in a legal battle with Brink’s over the theft of $23.7-million in gold and cash, denying it bears any responsibility for the heist from its warehouse at Toronto Pearson International Airport.

The airline flew the precious cargo – $21-million in 24 gold bars and $2.7-million in cash – to Toronto from Zurich on April 17. Less than an hour after the cargo was moved to Air Canada’s warehouse next to the airport, someone made off with it, according to police and Brink’s.

The case is unsolved.

Brink’s, which paid Air Canada to ship the cargo on behalf of clients, in October sued Air Canada for the value of the stolen property plus damages. Brink’s alleges Air Canada’s secure warehouse was anything but, and that the thief used fake paperwork to claim the cash and gold. “No security protocols or features were in place to monitor, restrict or otherwise regulate the unidentified individual’s access to the facilities,” Brink’s alleges in its civil suit, filed in the Federal Court of Canada.

Air Canada, in its statement of defence filed on Nov. 8, said it fulfilled its contracts to carry the goods by air, and “denies each and every allegation” made by Brink’s.

Zurich to zero: How Pearson’s $20M gold heist unfolded

Brink’s did not enter a value of the shipment on customs document, nor on the waybills, Air Canada alleges. Brink’s paid a standard shipping for the service, and might not have obtained insurance, Air Canada said. “Brink’s Switzerland Ltd. did so of its own volition and while fully aware the consequences,” Air Canada said in court documents.

Air Canada said Brink’s alleged omissions of value declarations and supplementary shipping fees places limits on the airline’s liability. Air Canada also said international rules that govern airlines’ customer relation, known as the Montreal Convention, cap the carrier’s liability. “Air Canada states that the damages sought by the plaintiffs are excessive, too remote and were not caused by it,” Air Canada said.

The claims filed by Air Canada and Brink’s have not been proven in court.

Brink’s, in its claim, asserts the Montreal Convention does not limit the amount it can recover from Air Canada. Brink’s said it paid a premium for the shipments, and the waybills were clearly marked as bank notes and gold bars, along with, “Special supervision is requested. Valuable cargo.”

Brink’s accuses Air Canada of running its secure cargo operations “negligently and carelessly,” failing to offer proper vaults, camera surveillance and security. Brink’s said it sued Air Canada after demanding full reimbursement for the value of the gold and cash, but receiving no response.

The company previously told The Globe and Mail it reimbursed its customers for their losses. The gold was shipped on behalf of Toronto Dominion Bank; the cash was carried for Vancouver Bullion and Currency Exchange, according to court documents.

Peel Regional Police Constable Nick Chakravarthy said on Friday investigators have no updates to announce on the case.

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