Source Pravda.Ru

Seven arrested in connection with Belfast bank robbery

Police in Ireland said they arrested seven people in Dublin and Cork as part of a money laundering investigation. The unnamed individuals may have been involved in the theft of about 27 million pounds ($51 million) from a &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/sport/2001/06/09/7418.html' target=_blank>Belfast bank last December, RTE reported.

The seven are being questioned at police stations in Cork and Dublin and can be held for up to 72 hours, Sergeant Ken Hill said by phone. A "substantial amount" of money was also seized, police said in a statement.

The cash may be part of the 22 million pounds ($41.6 million) stolen on Dec. 20 from the Belfast branch of Northern Bank, a unit of National Australia Bank Ltd., RTE said. Police in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland investigating the crime believe the &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/world/2001/10/25/19167.html' target=_blank>Irish Republican Army was behind the robbery. The IRA has denied involvement. Sgt. Hill declined to say whether the cash was related to the bank raid, informs Bloomberg.

Garda Inspector Ray McHugh said the police operation was significant and still evolving.

"There is a lot of work still going on, including forensic work," he said. "We certainly wouldn't be in a position, or be prepared to say, who we were targeting."

The suspects, who are being detained under Section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act, can be held for 72 hours before they are charged or released, says the BBC News.

According to the Scotsman, the operation involved months of planning. Gangs with inside knowledge of the Northern Bank’s operations held hostage the families of two key security employees of the bank, and forced them to empty the main cash vault after closing time. The alarm wasn’t raised until hours after the robbers’ getaway, when the wife of one of the coerced bank workers stumbled out of a secluded forest south of Belfast.

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