Arrest in Belfast

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NAtional Crime Agency

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A 39-year-old man has been arrested in Belfast by the National Crime Agency

Three people have been arrested in Belfast and London as part of an investigation into a cyber heist on a bank in Malta.

On Thursday, officers from the National Crime Agency (NCA), backed by the PSNI, arrested a 39-year-old man in Belfast.

Following searches in the north and west of the city, the man was detained on suspicion of money laundering offences, fraud, and theft.

It relates to the illegal removal of €13m (£10.95m) from bank accounts.

Two men, aged 22 and 17, were arrested on Wednesday in raids in London, in the West Hampstead and Ladbroke Grove areas.

A third man was interviewed under caution.

The theft

The arrests relate to the illegal removal of money from accounts in Malta in February 2019 using a strain of malware.

The money was transferred to a number of different accounts, with about £800,000 transferred to an account in Belfast.

In the hours following the transfer, card payments and cash withdrawals totalling £340,000 were made from that account before a block was put in place.

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NAtional Crime Agency

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Two men were arrested in London on Wednesday

These included payments to high-end stores like Harrods and Selfridges in London, about £110,000 on Rolex watches at a store in London, and payments for a Jaguar and Audi A5 from a car dealership.

Police are continuing to seek a number of other suspects as part of the investigation.

‘We are determined to do all we can’

David Cunningham, the Belfast branch commander of the NCA, said the 12-month investigation had been carried out with the help of the Malta Police Force Economic Crime Unit.

“[It] has focused on a number of individuals we suspect may have been involved in laundering money on behalf of the organised crime group who carried out the cyber-attack,” he said.

“Working with our law enforcement partners at home and overseas, we are determined to do all we can to target and disrupt those involved in organised crime, here in Northern Ireland and across the rest of the UK.”

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