Sun, Apr 08, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Prosecutor recommended for international award

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Local officials have nominated Lee Yen-lin (李彥霖), a Taipei district prosecutor, for a prestigious international award over his efforts in cracking the 2016 First Commercial Bank ATM heist by hackers using computer malware.

Lee’s work enabled police to recover most of the stolen cash and helped them arrest several suspects before they fled the nation, officials said.

This year’s annual International Association of Prosecutors (IAP) Special Achievement Award is to be presented at the IAP Annual Conference, to be held in Johannesburg from Sept. 9 to Sept. 13. Lee was nominated alongside Chang Shih-chia (張時嘉) of the Taichung District Prosecutors’ Office.

Lee has received recognition for solving the NT$83 million (US$2.85 million at the current exchange rate) case within seven days and identifying all the suspects involved.

The heist was found to have been masterminded by a Russian and East European crime syndicate known as Cobalt, which specializes in using malware and security testing programs to hack computer networks at banks and take control of ATMs.

The Prosecutors Association, ROC (Taiwan) said it visits district prosecutors’ offices nationwide each year to nominate those whose outstanding performance deserves recognition.

Most years, only one name is submitted for the award, but this year both Lee and Chang were nominated for their performance and achievements, it said in a statement.

Cobalt has hacked and robbed banks in more than 30 countries, stealing more than US$30 billion in similar heists in the UK, the Netherlands, Russia, Spain, Estonia, Poland, Malaysia and Thailand, the statement said.

“Lee acted swiftly, coordinating between local police and judiciary agencies which, reviewing evidence and videotapes, cracked the case within seven days and recovered about 90 percent of the cash taken from First Commercial Bank ATM’s,” the association said.

“It was the quickest and most successful response to a heist involving hacking of a bank’s computer network, for which it received international attention and earned much praise,” the statement said.

Lee has also been lauded for leading the investigation that cracked the 2015 kidnapping of Hong Kong tycoon Wong Yuk-kwan (黃煜坤), chairman of Pearl Oriental Oil Group (東方明珠集團), who was abducted in New Taipei City and held for ransom for more than five weeks.

Chang was cited for leading a team of police and investigators to the Dominican Republic last year, where they uncovered a large telecom fraud ring, officials said.

The action led to the arrest of 37 suspects there and in Taiwan, and helped authorities seize NT$150 million in illegal profits, they said.

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