$43 Million Belfast Bank Heist; No Insurance

December 23, 2004

As more details emerge from Britain’s biggest bank robbery, it’s become clear that the Northern Bank in Belfast, Northern Ireland, which is owned by The National Australia Bank, had no insurance coverage.

A National Bank spokesman told the BBC that initial audits showed that about £22 million ($42.9 million) was seized by the well-organized gang. In a statement on Wednesday, the bank said: “The theft is covered by self-insurance, and as such, National Australia Bank, which currently owns Northern Bank, will bear the impact of any losses arising from the theft.”

It also noted that it did not expect the robbery to affect the sale of the Northern Bank to the Danish Danske Bank Group announced earlier this month, nor would it affect the bank’s customers.

Police throughout the Province have been mobilized in an effort to catch the robbers, who are suspected of being part of a paramilitary organization. The gang is thought to have numbered around 20 individuals, who took bank employees hostage on Sunday night, and leisurely emptied the bank’s vaults the next day. The sacks of money were reportedly loaded into a white van, which then drove off. So far it has not been found.

The hostages, who were not released until Monday night, subsequently reported the robbery.

More than half the loot, however, may be unusable, as it consisted of newly printed bills with clearly noted serial numbers. However, that doesn’t mean they will be any easier to recover. Unless that happens National Australia Bank will be out $42.9 million.

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