Mon, Jul 25, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Russian woman sought over ATM heist

Staff writer, with CNA

A Russian woman has been added to the list of suspects in the theft of more than NT$83 million (US$2.59 million) from First Commercial Bank automatic teller machines (ATMs) this month, police said on Saturday.

Oxana Sarkisova, 42, arrived in Taiwan from Macau at 11am on July 11 and departed for Macau at 8pm that same night. She had previously been identified as an associate in the case.

The latest findings by police show that Sarkisova headed directly to the Humble House Taipei hotel to look for her boyfriend, Alexander Lvovskiy, another Russian suspect in the case, after arriving.

She was seen on surveillance camera footage pulling a piece of white luggage into the hotel at 6pm, police said.

The luggage, containing more than NT$22.51 million, was allegedly handed to Evgenni Babii, another Russian, who placed it in a locker at the Taipei Railway Station on July 13, police said, adding that it was removed by Mihail Colibaba, a Romanian, on July 16.

Police said they have identified 17 suspects from six countries they believe were involved in the heist.

Between July 9 and July 11, a gang allegedly stole NT$83.27 million from 41 First Commercial Bank ATMs in Taipei, New Taipei City and Taichung, using malware to hack into the bank’s computer system.

On July 17, police said they recovered NT$60.24 million from the Dazhi area (大直) hotel room of Colibaba and Niklae Penkov, a Moldovan, following their arrest. Based on information provided by another suspect, Latvian Andrejs Peregudovs, police found a bag containing NT$12.63 million on a hill near Xihu Park in Taipei’s Neihu District (內湖) on Wednesday.

Also on Wednesday, a man surnamed Ko (柯) handed another bag to police containing NT$4.54 million that he said he had discovered earlier that day at the same site.

About NT$5.79 million remains unaccounted for.

Police said that the missing money might have been taken overseas by the other suspects.

Xander Tann, an Estonian, and Victor Kharechko, an Australian, are suspected of having converted more than NT$200,000 into South Korean won, Australian dollars and US dollars at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport just before they left on a flight to South Korea on July 11.

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