Police crack bank vault mystery

Part of the 5.9 million euros that went missing from the Bank of Greece (BoG) branch in Kalamata on Friday was found yesterday buried in olive groves in the countryside close to the southern Peloponnesian town. Sources close to the investigation said police recovered the stolen cash after two bank employees confessed to having removed and hidden the money near their country homes in the vicinity of Mikromani and Arfara – two villages a few kilometers north and west of Kalamata. The cash was found to be missing from the BoG vault on Friday, and immediately police suspected that bank employees must have been involved as the vault bore no signs of forced entry. Apart from the two employees who allegedly confessed to a part in the theft, police were also interrogating several more of their colleagues until late yesterday, although it was still unclear how many people were suspected of having participated in the heist. There was also no indication of how the money – 100 bundles of 20-, 50- and 100-euro notes – had been removed. The theft was only discovered when branch manager Ilias Antonakopoulos ordered the cash in the vault to be counted on the eve of his departure on holiday, after which he was due to retire. Initially, all appeared to be in good order, as the thieves had removed the cash from the back of the vault, leaving a wall of notes stacked in front for cover. The branch had armed guards on 24-hour duty and a CCTV surveillance network, while only two people – Antonakopoulos and another senior employee – held a key to the vault door. Each of the two key-holders knew half the code number that opened the combination lock. The vault had last been inspected five months ago.