Sat, Jul 23, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Man to be charged for not reporting ATM heist stash

NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH:A woman said she took a picture of the man because she thought he acted strange as he walked past her wearing a motorcycle helmet

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

A man surnamed Ko, who found money from the First Commercial Bank heist, wearing a face mask, arrives at the Xinyi police station yesterday in Taipei.

Photo: Chen Yi-yun, Taipei Times

Police plan to bring charges against a 65-year-old man, surnamed Ko (柯), who investigators say had found two bags of cash at a park in Taipei’s Neihu District (內湖) and had wanted to keep the money, which was reportedly hidden there by the Latvian suspect Andrejs Peregudovs in connection with the millions of dollars that were stolen from of First Commercial Bank’s automated teller machines (ATMs) earlier this month.

Accompanied by his lawyer, Ko went to Taipei’s Xinyi District (信義) Police Precinct yesterday, where investigators questioned him regarding his activities on Wednesday, when he allegedly found NT$4.54 million (US$141,565) in the hills of Neihu’s Sihu Park (西湖公園).

Ko will likely be charged with offenses relating to the transport and possession of illegally obtained assets, police said, because the money he took home was related to a criminal case under investigation and he did not immediately report his find to police, instead waiting more than 14 hours before he contacted the authorities.

Police said that Ko went to Sihu Park at about 6am on Wednesday morning, according to surveillance camera footage, found the heist money and transferred NT$4.54 million of it from the first bag into a plastic bag, then exited the park to go home shortly after 8am.

Police said Ko was shown by surveillance cameras returning to Sihu Park at 9am, this time carrying two plastic bags, with the intention to take out the cash contained in the other carrying bag, which he left behind likely because it was too heavy for him to carry.

However by that time, Criminal Investigation Bureau officials and police had arrived at the park to retrieve the money, based on information given by Peregudovs, and had set up patrols, so Ko was unable to retrieve the second bag, containing NT$12.63 million, which the authorities found that afternoon.

A woman also provided the police with a photograph of Ko on Wednesday carrying two plastic bags and wearing a motorcycle helmet while walking toward the park.

“I saw this man walking past me, and he was acting in a suspicious way. There was something strange in the look of his eyes, so I took pictures of him,” the woman reportedly told police.

Police said Ko admitted he intended to keep the money, but that he said his son later convinced him to report his find to the authorities after seeing media reports of police taking Peregudovs to Sihu Park to retrieve the money on Wednesday.

Police said that their priority is to determine whether Ko was in any way connected to Peregudovs and the East European criminal gang who allegedly carried out the ATM heist, or whether he was instructed by a third party charged with collecting and laundering the money and sending it abroad.

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