The National Crime Agency in the U.K. made three arrests in Belfast and London as part of a money-laundering investigation linked to a massive malware attack against Malta’s Bank of Valletta that took place nearly one year ago.
Two males, aged 17 and 22, were arrested during raids in the West Hempstead and Ladbroke Garden sections of London. On Thursday, a 39-year old male was arrested in Belfast on suspicion of money laundering, fraud and theft.
“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 organized crime group who carried out the cyber-attack,” NCA Belfast branch commander David Cunningham said, in a release from the agency.
The attackers stole 13 million Euros ($14.3 million) from Malta’s oldest bank in the February 2019 incident and transferred more than $1 million to other banks around the world, including here in the U.S.
NCA officials said that a spending spree using the stolen funds led Maltese authorities to contact the agency. The transactions included card payments and cash withdrawals totalling 340,000 British pounds ($446,000) were used before a stop could be placed on the transactions, including purchases at Harrods and Selfriges in London, about 110,000 British pounds ($144,000) were spent on Rolex watches and payments were made on a Jaguar and Audi A5 at a car dealership.