Thursday, January 18, 2018

Lawyer held in $4.5m bank robbery

Money found in bushes behind house

A 51-year-old criminal attorney has been detained by police for questioning in connection with the $4.5 million robbery at Republic Bank’s Sangre Grande branch on Carnival Saturday.

According to investigators, the attorney was held in a car in the Matura area last Saturday evening, at around 4 p.m. by officers from the Eastern Division Task Force.

“We obtained information that the attorney was one of the men who helped coordinate and plan the robbery,” an investigator who has been pursuing leads with several other officers said yesterday.

It is also understood that investigators recovered  a significant sum of the money from the robbery at the weekend.

Sources say the money was found in a bag in some bushes behind a house in East Trinidad. Investigators believe as much as 12 people were involved in the robbery which according to police sources, “possibly included law enforcement personnel as well.”

Some of the major players in the bank heist remain at large, sources said.

A senior investigator said they have ruled out the robbery being an “inside job” after conducting several interviews with employees at the bank over the last week.

Investigators say it was around 2 a.m. on March 1 that the intruders broke into the bank’s building by prising open a back door to gain access to a vault containing the money.

Police said they responded to a report from a security officer who was on duty at the bank at the time, but by the time they arrived, the thieves had already escaped. In a full-page advertisement in the newspapers  last week, the bank said electronic items, including video footage, were handed over to the police as they continue their investigations into the incident.

Police confirm  receiving these items and noted  that the bank has been fully cooperating with the officers.

The bank also stated that it does not provide a safety deposit locker service, “but several items brought in by six customers for safekeeping were tampered with by the intruders”.

Some of those items were found in the building following the robbery, after which the six customers were contacted to identify their belongings, the bank added.

Investigators told the Express that seven people are now in custody in connection with the robbery.