A man has been arrested in Belfast by detectives investigating money laundering linked to a multi-million pound cyber heist on a bank in Malta.
The National Crime Agency and the PSNI executed two warrants in north and west Belfast on Thursday, arresting a man, aged 39, on suspicion of money laundering offences, fraud and theft. He remains in police custody.
The case involves a strain of malware that was sent in February 2019 which was used to access systems and illegally remove funds of around 13m Euros from accounts holding bank funds.
A number of accounts were used to receive those funds, one of them was in the UK and was held in Belfast. Around £800,000 was transferred.
In the following hours a number of card payments and cash withdrawals totalling £340,000 were made from the account before a block could be put on them.
They included payments to high end stores such as Harrods and Selfridges in London, around £110,000 spent on Rolex watches at a store in London, and payments for a Jaguar and Audi A5 from a car dealership.
The Maltese authorities alerted the NCA and an investigation was launched to find those behind the scams.
Two men, aged 22 and 17, were arrested in raids in West Hampstead and Ladbroke Grove area of London on Wednesday January 23.
An additional male was interviewed under caution.
Officers are still seeking a number of other suspects in connection with their investigation.
NCA Belfast branch commander David Cunningham said: “Our 12-month investigation, carried out with the help of the Malta Police Force Economic Crime Unit, has focused on a number of individuals we suspect may have been involved in laundering money on behalf of the organised crime group who carried out the cyber-attack.
“This has led us to the arrests in London last week and Belfast today, and our investigation continues.
“This operation demonstrates the reach of the NCA, both domestically and internationally.
“Working with our law enforcement partners at home and overseas we are determined to do all we can to target and disrupt those involved in organised crime, here in Northern Ireland and across the rest of the UK.”