National Australia Bank (NAB) demonstrated its continuing ability to succumb to unfortunate events this week when the Belfast headquarters of its Northern Bank subsidiary in Northern Ireland were raided and £20 million stolen.
A gang held the families of two bank officials hostage for 24 hours before stealing the money. The employees were forced to hand over the money at the headquarters of Northern Bank in Belfast after close of business on Monday by raiders who had taken over their homes on Sunday night.
Police said they were investigating whether one of Northern Ireland’s paramilitary groups, which remain heavily involved in crime despite observing cease-fires in the province’s long-running sectarian conflict, had been involved in the raid.
Britain’s biggest robbery was a 1987 break-in at a safe deposit center in London when £60 million was stolen. In 1983, £26 million was taken in a raid on a Brinks-Mat vault at London’s Heathrow airport.
National Australia Bank said in a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange that about £20 million was stolen. “The theft is covered by self-insurance, and as such, National Australia Bank … will bear the impact of any losses arising from the theft,” it said.
Northern Bank has 95 branches in the province.
Earlier this month, Denmark’s Danske Bank agreed to buy Northern Bank and Dublin-based National Irish Bank from National Australia Bank for DkR 10.4 billion($1.87 billion).
The theft was not expected to have any material impact on the sale of the two banks to Danske, National Australia Bank said.