Canada's largest gold heist: Indian-origin ex-airline manager wanted in case to turn himself in, says lawyer

15 June,2024 05:47 PM IST |  Ottawa  |  PTI

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 using fake paperwork

Representational Pic/File

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A 31-year-old Indian-origin former Air Canada manager wanted in connection with Canada's largest gold and cash heist worth CAD 22.5 million is preparing to surrender in the next few weeks, his lawyer has said, according to a report on Saturday.

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 Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) News.

"When this prosecution is over, he will have been absolved of any wrongdoing," the report quoted him as saying.

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 using fake paperwork, according to the police.

The gold and currency had arrived on an Air Canada flight from Zurich, Switzerland, to Pearson International Airport in Toronto. Shortly after the flight's landing, the cargo was offloaded and transported to a separate location on airport property. It was reported missing to the police a day later.

Police have arrested six people involved in the theft, including Indian-origin people.

Canada-wide warrants were also issued for Panesar, from Brampton, who was also an Air Canada employee at the time of the theft.

Lawyer Lafontaine said Panesar retained him as soon as he learned he was wanted on charges in Canada, according to the report.

The lawyer then contacted police and the Crown prosecutor to tell them Panesar planned to return voluntarily to Canada in the next few weeks.

"He is anxious to have an opportunity to demonstrate his absolute innocence," Lafontaine was quoted as saying. He added that Panesar is "tidying up his affairs abroad in preparation for his return to Canada."

The lawyer did not disclose Panesar's locations, citing safety concerns.

On May 6, 2024, investigators arrested and charged Indian-origin Archit Grover at the airport in Toronto as he flew in from India, according to the police. The police issued a Canada-wide warrant against his arrest earlier in connection with the theft.

In April, two persons of Indian origin Parmpal Sidhu, 54, and Amit Jalota, 40 -- both from Ontario, were arrested in connection with the case along with Ammad Chaudhary, 43, Ali Raza, 37, and Prasath Paramalingam, 35.

Peel Regional Police has said it is "following all investigative leads" to find the remaining suspects.

The stolen cargo contained 6,600 bars of .9999 pure gold, weighing 400 kilograms, valued at over 20 million dollars and Canadian dollars 2.5 million worth in foreign currency.

In an earlier statement, the police said that investigators seized one kilogramme of gold worth approximately Canadian dollars 89,000, believed to be from the theft, smelting equipment, and approximately 434,000 dollars in Canadian currency.

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