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Saturday, December 2, 2023

Costa Rica Bank Thief Spent Stolen Money on Lottery

In a shocking turn of events, the primary suspect behind the theft of ₡3,200 million ($5.1 million) in cash from the vaults of Banco Nacional ingeniously exploited a blind spot in a surveillance camera.

This allowed them to slyly introduce the stolen money into envelopes and discreetly remove it from the bank, all while taking advantage of the absence of controls by other employees.

The audacious scheme took an even more intriguing twist as the suspect proceeded to spend the stolen millions on the purchase of lottery tickets and games of chance. Initially, the transactions began modestly at ₡100,000 per day but soon escalated into multi-million-dollar spending sprees.

These shocking revelations came to light during preliminary investigations conducted by the Attorney General’s Office and the Judicial Investigation Organism (OIJ). The findings were officially announced by Attorney General Carlo Díaz and Randall Zúñiga, director of the OIJ, in a press conference held earlier this week.

The investigation operation was aptly named “Gallo Tapado,” a reference to the presumed destination of the misappropriated funds. Zúñiga, during the press conference, shed light on the suspect’s extravagant spending on lottery tickets and related games of chance.

The investigators’ scrutiny extended to the financial backgrounds of the individuals involved. It was uncovered that some of them did not have high salaries that could justify their extravagant expenses.

For instance, one individual under investigation was found to own a sprawling property spanning 22,000 square meters. In an unexpected turn of events, this person promptly resigned the day after an audit revealed the financial irregularities, possibly to secure their pension.

The judicial authorities claim to have resolved the case of the missing money from Banco Nacional’s vault within a mere two weeks. The primary focus of the investigation is a man named Olivas, who allegedly executed the theft while exploiting a blind spot in the vault’s security cameras.

According to Prosecutor Diaz, the suspect used manila envelopes to surreptitiously remove the money, avoiding detection by the surveillance system. It is suggested that the omission of subsequent controls may have facilitated this theft on multiple occasions.

The investigation has now shifted its focus toward determining the roles of other individuals involved in this complex operation. Administrative and financial officials, custodians, and even a private security officer are under the investigators’ scrutiny.

The evidence currently available primarily consists of ten videos capturing the exit of envelopes. It is worth noting that these files are retained for 45 days, potentially complicating the ongoing investigations.

In total, the actions taken on Wednesday targeted new individuals. Eight were apprehended during raids conducted on Tuesday, and one more individual is currently under investigation.

The evidence thus far identifies at least seven suspicious transactions involving the individual with the surname Olivas. The roles played by the other individuals will be thoroughly investigated, with potential charges ranging from complicity to neglect of their duties or inaction in the face of criminal activities.

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