First court hearing on high-profile ATM heist opens
Oct 12, 2016 UncategorizedComments Off on First court hearing on high-profile ATM heist opens
The Taipei District Court held the first hearing on a high-profile heist from a local bank's automatic teller machines (ATMs) on Wednesday.
A multi-national crime ring was involved in the theft of more than NT$83 million (US$2.6 million) from First Bank's ATMs in July.
Taipei District Prosecutors Office indicted three East European suspects - Latvian Andrejs Peregudovs, Romanian Mihail Colibaba and Moldovan Niklae Penkov - on charges of fraud, obstruction of computer as well as others last month. The prosecution demanded a prison term of 12 years for each of the defendants.
Peregudovs was questioned in court on Wednesday, but denied the 12 charges leveled against him.
He denied involvement with a criminal ring and only admitted to being in possession of stolen property.
He claimed that he owed an associate in Latvia 3,500 euros and had only agreed to come to Taiwan to pick up something and deliver it to a third party after the lives of his wife and children were threatened.
The judge asked Peregudovs about the contacts in his three smartphones and why he had disposed of them, noting that if he was really being threatened the phones would have offered key evidence.
The incident took place in the early hours of July 10, when the ATMs of First Bank were hacked and began to give out cash in its Taipei, New Taipei and Taichung branches.
Forty-one ATMs at the bank's 22 branches gave out money during the heist and a total of NT$83.27 million was stolen.
Police later retrieved NT$77.48 million of the money and the outstanding NT$5.79 million was probably taken by other suspects who are known to have left Taiwan.
The Taipei District Prosecutors Office, while indicting the three Eastern Europeans, also put 19 accomplices who have already fled the country on the wanted list.
The 22 suspects come from eight countries, including eight from Russia, six from Romania, three from Latvia and one each from France, Australia, Belarus, Estonia and Moldova