Another three people have been arrested in connection with last year's €13 million Bank of Valletta cyber heist, after €950,000 was funneled through an account in Northern Ireland.

Friday's announcement by the UK's National Crime Agency follows the arrest of three other men in Belfast and London earlier this week.

BOV had come under attack in February of last year, with hackers breaking into its systems and moving €13 million into foreign accounts.

Then in May the bank said it had recovered €10 million of the total sum. 

In a statement the NCA said a 33-year-old man was detained on suspicion of money laundering offences, fraud and theft at Heathrow Airport as he returned to the UK from China on Thursday. 

He was questioned by the NCA and bailed pending further enquiries.

Another two men, aged 23 and 24, were arrested on Friday also on suspicion of money laundering offences, fraud and theft, after handing themselves in to a police station in Belfast. 

They remain in custody.

“The focus of our investigation is those suspected of having helped launder the proceeds of this cyber-attack, a large amount of which were funnelled through a bank account here in Belfast,” NCA Belfast branch commander David Cunningham said.

Around €950,000 was illegally transferred into an account in Belfast, which then saw payments of more than €404,500 go out before the account could be blocked, according to NCA.

The money was spent at high end stores such as Harrods and Selfridges, to buy Rolex watches at a store in London, and on payments for a Jaguar and Audi A5 from a car dealership.

Footage of the warrants and arrests in West Hampstead, London (January 22) and north Belfast (January 30)

Earlier arrests

The investigation found that a strain of malware was used to access systems and illegally remove the funds into UK accounts.

On Wednesday two men aged 22 and 17 were arrested in raids in West Hampstead and Ladbroke Grove in London and a third man was interviewed under caution. 

Then on Thursday the Police Service of Northern Ireland arrested a 39-year-old man in Belfast on suspicion of money laundering offences, fraud and theft. He remains in custody.

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