Three eastern Europeans suspected of involvement in the theft of NT$83.27 million (US$2.63 million at the current exchange rate) from First Commercial Bank (第一銀行) automated teller machines (ATMs) in July were yesterday indicted on fraud charges as the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office wrapped up its two-month investigation into the heist.
Taipei Deputy Chief Prosecutor Chang Chieh-chin (張介欽) said his office has asked for 12-year prison terms for the three men: Andrejs Peregudovs, 41, from Latvia; Niklae Penkov, 34, from Moldova; and Mihail Colibaba, 30, from Romania
Long sentences were needed because the hacking of the bank’s computer networks to plant malware had resulted in serious damage to the nation’s financial and banking systems, and created a public panic, Chang said.
Photo: Huang Yao-cheng, Taipei Times
The July theft was the first time Taiwan has suffered such a hacking attack, although they have been prevalent in Europe, and the attack was sophisticated, with detailed planning and a systematic division of labor involving people from several countries, Chang said.
“The three suspects did not cooperate during the investigation, were deceitful, evasive in answering questions, denied involvement in the theft, and did not admit to participating in the collection and transportation of the stolen money. We therefore request the court impose a 12-year term for each of them,” Chang said, reading from the indictment.
The three men were also charged with violating several provisions of the Criminal Code, Chang said, citing Article 339-2: “A person who for purpose to exercise unlawful control over other’s property for himself or for a third person takes property of another through an ATM.”
The other articles are 358, 359, 360, and 362, he said.
A total of NT$77.48 million was recovered, and prosecutors have asked the court to confiscate the money, he said.
In related news, the Financial Supervisory Commission yesterday fined First Commercial Bank NT$10 million and temporarily suspended its card-less withdrawal service.
The investigation by police and computer technicians found the gang behind the theft had targeted the bank’s vulnerable ProCash 1500-model ATMs, which are manufactured by Wincor Nixdorf, a German firm.
The gang implanted malware in the bank’s server to allow the ATMs to discharge cash via remote control through a telnet connection with the bank’s branch office in London.
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