Bank guards in Baghdad steal $300m and vanish

THIEVES have stolen nearly $300 million from a bank in Baghdad, police and a bank official said yesterday, in what is probably one of the biggest thefts in Iraq since the 2003 war to topple Saddam Hussein.

Police said the thieves were three guards who worked at the private Dar Es Salaam bank in the Karrada district.

When employees arrived for work on Wednesday they found the front door open and the money gone.

The guards, who normally slept at the bank, had also disappeared, they said.

A bank official said about US$300 million (150 million) had been stolen, as well as 220 million Iraqi dinars (88,000). Police said the interior and finance ministries had set up a committee to investigate the theft.

It was not clear why the bank had so much cash on hand, but Karrada is a key commercial district in the Iraqi capital.

Ever since the US-led invasion, most transactions in Iraq have been conducted in cash because of limited facilities to transfer money through banks or other financial institutions.

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