Anvelt on largest bank robbery of 90s: Case also piqued underworld interest ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

The Hansapank building on Liivalaia Street
The Hansapank building on Liivalaia Street Source: SCANPIX/Postimees/Peeter Langovits

Wednesday marks 25 years since what was at that time the largest bank robbery in Estonian history, when an unknown man escaped with some 2.3 million kroons.

At 9.37 a.m. on May 27, 1995, an unknown young man entered the collection room - in essence, the bank's vault - of the Hansapank building on Liivalaia Street. He ordered the two cashiers to lay down on the ground at gunpoint and then bagged 2.29 million kroons (the Estonian currency prior to adopting the Euro in 2011). He was gone in three minutes, neither he nor the money was never found.

"This was the first larger amount [stolen -ed.] Just imagining how many piles of bills there had to be it became clear that it was something unprecedented," former interior minister Andres Anvelt, who at that time worked at the Estonian Central Criminal Police, told ERR's "Vikerraadio" program on Wednesday.

The case was investigated by North Prefecture with help from the Estonian Central Criminal Police. Anvelt didn't deal with the case himself, but was informed of relevant developments. "One has to have inside knowledge in order to know how a bank works in such a phenomenal way," he said.

The bank robber knew exactly where to go, how to open doors, and was gone before security and police arrived at the scene. Security footage shows that the man, dressed in dark clothes like a cash messenger, knew exactly where to cover his face with his hand. "90 percent of the classic heist movies are the same - an informant will draw up the bank's floor plan or provide information on the cash available," Anvelt said.

"Even 25 years later I can recall that for some reason, a part of the criminal underworld was involved in the search for the money," the former minister added.

The interest of the underworld can be explained by them having a so-called common pot system, which could not be bypassed. The given robbery was not, however, coordinated with the underworld.

The police did not cooperate with the underworld. "There weren't any conferences with the Central Criminal Police director and the common pot director Kolja Tarankov to discuss how to reach solutions. There was a clear difference but it is certain that regarding some crimes, the underworld had similar interest in solving them, as they hoped to earn some sort of reparations," Anvelt explained.

The crime remains unsolved and Anvelt cannot speculate on why it happened. "Every felon plans on not getting caught. Of course, most are caught," he said.


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Editor: Anders Nõmm

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