Cathay Pacific Airlines has lost a bag containing $1 million in New Zealand bills at Hong Kong airport, according to New Zealand Herald.
The Chinese language website Oriental Daily reported that the bag was one of 13 carrying a total of $10 million.
English news site Shanghaiist, reporting the Daily’s article, said the bag was flown from New Zealand on a Cathay Pacific aircraft and arrived at Hong Kong International Airport on Friday night.
The cash was being transported to the Bank of China in bags labelled G4S International Logistics in a luggage box through a cargo transfer service provided by a Cathay subsidiary, Hong Kong Airport Services.
Shanghaiist said: “Surveillance footage shows that the three bags fell out from the trailer, which was not properly fastened, while it was making a turn at a corner.
“During the transfer, there was only a driver on board without a security guard. Only 10 minutes later when the cargo arrived at the station, the driver realised the bags were missing.”
Two of the three missing bags were later found on the tarmac, but the third remains missing.
A Cathay Pacific spokeswoman confirmed the airline had transported the “valuable shipment” on July 17. “Upon arrival it was transferred to the cargo terminal where part of the cargo shipment was found missing,” she said.
“As the case is under police investigation, we are unable to provide further details.”
G4S International Logistics – which specialises in transporting valuable cargo – denied responsibility for the lost money, which is insured.
G4S North Asia commodities director Janet Leung told the South China Morning Post that the entire currency consignment was “accounted for” prior to its transfer into a restricted area at the airport. She was “very concerned” by the loss.
“This loss occurred within the controlled airside sector of HKIA – a restricted area that we are not allowed access to,” she said. “We can confirm that the missing banknotes were safe and accounted for during the entire time it was in G4Si’s possession, up until it was in the controlled airside sector.”
Ms Leung said the security group was “confident” the police and airport would be “diligently on their investigation and recovery efforts”.
“G4Si is working hard to understand the chain of events that led to this loss,” she said.
She refused to speculate on who may have taken the money, saying “it would be premature to draw any such conclusions” while the police investigation was ongoing.
Hong Kong police are investigating the theft. Police in New Zealand said they were aware of the theft but were not investigating it.
A spokeswoman for Auckland Airport could not comment.
On its website G4Si says that for cash cargo it offers secure collection, Customs clearance, security delivery and insurance services. It also offers armoured delivery services.
A Customs spokeswoman said the agency was not involved in the incident.
The cash consignment was freight, not luggage, so needed to have special clearance to leave New Zealand.
To do this, the sender or their Customs broker or a freight forwarding company acting for them would have had to lodge an Electronic Cargo Information form, giving Customs detailed information about the goods and the destination they were heading to.
She said there was no issue with the money leaving New Zealand. Privacy laws prevented Customs from detailing who sent the cash to Hong Kong.