Three foreigners convicted in the theft last year of more than NT$83.27 million (US$2.76 million at the current exchange rate) from First Bank Co automated teller machines (ATMs) yesterday had their sentences reduced on appeal to the Taiwan High Court.
Andrejs Peregudovs of Latvia, Mihail Colibaba of Romania and Niklae Penkov of Moldova were in January each sentenced to five years in prison and fined NT$600,000 by the Taipei District Court for fraud and compromising computer security.
They later filed an appeal.
Yesterday, the High Court reduced the penalty to four years and 10 months for Peregudovs, four years and eight months for Colibaba and four years and six months for Penkov, on the grounds that there is no credible evidence that they were the masterminds behind the theft.
However, considering that the trio was found to have played key roles in handling the stolen money, the court said that “strict punishment is required.”
The fine for Peregudovs was reduced to NT$500,000, while Colibaba’s was cut to NT$400,000 and Penkov’s to NT$300,000, the court said.
Yesterday’s ruling can be appealed.
In a statement, the High Court suggested an amendment to the law to increase the penalties for online crimes, which it said were ever-changing in terms of the skills and technologies used.
“No national boundaries can confine online crime. Therefore, mutual legal assistance is of the essence,” the court said.
The three men were arrested on July 17 last year.
A total of 22 suspects from six countries were allegedly involved in the high-profile ATM robbery, 19 of whom fled the country and have been put on a wanted list, prosecutors said.
The heist occurred from July 9 to July 11 last year, when members of an international ring withdrew money from 51 First Bank ATMs in Taipei, New Taipei City and Taichung after using malware to hack into the bank’s computer system.
The theft came to light when members of the public in Taipei alerted police after seeing two people collect cash from an ATM in the middle of the night.
The people who made the withdrawals left the country, after which Peregudovs, Colibaba and Penkov flew to Taiwan to recover the money and smuggle it out.
Police recovered more than NT$77 million of the stolen cash, but nearly NT$5.79 million is still missing.
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