Image Source : PEEL REGIONAL POLICE Simran Preet Panesar, former Air Canada employee

Ottawa: A 31-year-old Indian-origin former Air Canada manager wanted in connection with the case of Canada’s largest gold and cash heist last year worth $22.5 million is preparing to surrender himself in the coming few weeks, reports cited his lawyer saying. A total of six people have been arrested in connection with the case, including Archit Grover, 36, from Brampton, who was nabbed last month.

Simran Preet Panesar, wanted in the brazen multimillion-dollar gold heist at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport last year, is “very confident in the Canadian justice system,” his lawyer, Greg Lafontaine said in a statement to CBC News. “When this prosecution is over, he will have been absolved of any wrongdoing,” Lafontaine added.

Canada-wide warrants were also issued for Panesar, from Brampton, who was also an Air Canada employee at the time of the theft. Lafontaine said Panesar retained him as soon as he learned he was wanted on charges in Canada, according to the report.

“He is anxious to have an opportunity to demonstrate his absolute innocence,” the lawyer said, after he contacted the police and the Crown prosecutor to tell them about Panesar’s voluntary return to Canada in the next few weeks. He added that Panesar is “tidying up his affairs abroad in preparation for his return to Canada.”

In April, 37 search warrants were issued along with 70 production orders and nine people have been identified in connection with the case, who have been arrested, charged or have nationwide warrants issued for them, reported Canada-based Global News.

What are the events of the case?

Meanwhile, Grover is facing charges of theft of $5,000 and conspiracy to commit an indictable offence. He was held for a bail hearing and attended the Ontario Court of Justice in Brampton. He is also being indicted in the United States for firearm-related charges. His arrest comes after Peel police, along with the Philadelphia Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, announced five arrests in the case on April 17.

On April 17, 2023, an air cargo container carrying more than 22 million Canadian dollars’ worth of gold bars and foreign currency was stolen from a secure storage facility at the Pearson airport using fake paperwork, said police. The gold and currency had just arrived on an Air Canada flight from Zurich, Switzerland. Two former Air Canada employees allegedly helped in pulling off the heist, which is the largest in Canada’s history.

Two Indian-origin men were already among those arrested on April 17. Parmpal Sidhu, 54, and Amit Jalota, 40, both from Ontario, were arrested along with Ammad Chaudhary, 43, Ali Raza, 37, and Prasath Paramalingam, 35. Canada-wide arrest warrants had been issued for Panesar, a 31-year-old man from Brampton who was a former Air Canada employee who was employed there at the time of the theft, and Arsalan Chaudhary, a 42-year-old man from Mississauga.

Peel police said that a flight from Switzerland landed at Pearson International Airport carrying a cargo containing 6,600 bars of .9999 per cent pure gold, weighing 400 kilogrammes, valued at over $20 million, which was then offloaded and transported to a separate location on Airport property. The cargo was reported missing on April 18 last year. 

“Peel Regional Police immediately started the investigation, which has crossed borders, and we have been working collaboratively with the Philadelphia Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF),” the statement said. One person, Durante King-Mclean, was arrested in the US for possessing 65 illegal firearms.

Air Canada last month said it had suspended one cargo division employee charged in the theft while the other, who worked in the same department at the time of the heist, had left the airline before the charges were announced. In an earlier statement, the police said that investigators seized one kilogramme of gold worth approximately C$89,000, believed to be from the theft, smelting equipment, and approximately C$ 434,000.


(with inputs from PTI)

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