GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – Diamonds, being loaded onto a Helvetic Airways plane in Brussels Monday were stolen when a Brinks security agency team was attacked by armed men, the airport there has confirmed. No shots were fired. Reports on the amount of loot stolen vary but VRT television in Brussels cites Antwerp sources, where the diamonds originated, as saying $50 million, about CHF43m.
The flight scheduled for 20:05, operated by partner company Swiss and headed for Zurich, LX789, was cancelled; the thieves broke in at 19:47 and were gone 10 minutes later, VRT reports.
The airport says the heavily armed men arrived in two vehicles, broke through an airport fence at 19:47and fled through the same hole.
Police in Brussels say they are looking for eight men. A burned-out van west of the airport is being investigated to see if it is linked to the crime.
The uncut diamonds were en route from Antwerp to Zurich.
Helvetic Airways became Switzerland’s first low-cost carrier when it was founded in 2003. It was bought in 2006 and is wholly owned by Patinex AG, an investment firm owned by Martin and Rosemarie Ebner. Ebner in 2003 was cleared of insider trading charges; the financier had made a name for himself earlier for bringing sharehold activism to Switzerland, particularly to its large national and multinational companies.
Brussels media. focusing on whether security at the airport was adequate, point to the case of a 12-year-old who last week got into the airport’s closed area and stowed away on a flight to Spain.