Sat, Aug 26, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Sentences upheld in final appeal for ATM theft case

Staff writer, with CNA

The Supreme Court on Thursday turned down appeals by three foreign defendants following their convictions for the theft last year of more than NT$83.27 million (US$2.75 million) from First Bank automated teller machines (ATMs).

In January, the Taipei District Court handed down five-year jail terms to Latvian Andrejs Peregudovs, Romanian Mihail Colibaba and Moldovan Niklae Penkov, and a fine of NT$600,000 each for fraud and computer security offenses, which they appealed.

On May 18, the Taiwan 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 heist.

However, the trio were found to have played key roles in handling the stolen money, and therefore “strict punishment is a must,” the court said.

Peregudovs’ fine was reduced to NT$500,000, while Colibaba’s was cut to NT$400,000 and Penkov’s was reduced to NT$300,000, the ruling said.

They appealed the ruling again, leading to the Supreme Court’s final decision on Thursday.

They will be deported after serving their time, the court said.

Twenty-two suspects from six nations were named for involvement in the high-profile ATM theft, 19 of whom fled the nation 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 Taipei residents alerted police after seeing two people collecting cash from an ATM in the middle of the night.

Those who made the withdrawals left the nation. Peregudovs, Colibaba and Penkov entered Taiwan later to recover the money, prosecutors said.

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