As the probe continues into last weekend’s automated teller machine (ATM) heist in Barbados, new information has emerged on the identity of a third man, suspected to be involved in the daring commercial bank scam.
Sources close to what has now evolved into a major cross-border security operation, involving the Royal Barbados Police Force, the Royal Police Force of Antigua and Barbuda and other regional law enforcement agencies, as well as Interpol, have confirmed that Yuliyan Emilov Borisov, a 32-year-old Bulgarian national, is considered a person of interest in the case.
He reportedly arrived in Barbados aboard a Virgin Atlantic flight back in September, but left hurriedly aboard a LIAT flight on Sunday for Antigua before jetting off to Britain, ahead of his scheduled departure out of Barbados on October 24 aboard British Airways Flight 2154.
Up until news time, Borisov had somehow managed to elude law enforcement authorities in Barbados, Antigua and Britain, but Barbados TODAY investigations revealed that a Facebook page in his name was continuously being updated throughout the day, via mobile device, while he remained on the move. We were able to draw this to the attention of the local police, who were able to corroborate many of the facts this paper was able to glean independently on the ongoing investigation.
“I will confirm that we are, through international means, investigating a third man, who is of Bulgarian nationality,” police public relations officer Inspector David Welch told Barbados TODAY late this afternoon.
However, he said while it would appear that Borisov had left the region for Britain, British Scotland Yard detectives were currently not involved in the transnational probe.
“What we have employed is our link with Interpol,” Welch said, noting that several regional law enforcement agencies were part of the probe.
Earlier, the acting head of the Criminal Investigations Department in Antigua, Davis Clayton, had suggested that there could be a fourth person involved. He said on Sunday two men, including Borisov, had rented a car on arrival in St John’s and had even checked into a local hotel before deciding not to stay on.
“They are not in Antigua. They did pass through here, but we are not holding anyone,” he told Barbados TODAY.
However, Welch was surprised by the mention of a fourth person of interest. He said local authorities were only seeking Borisov as the third person of interest.
While stating that the current investigation was at “an advanced stage”, Welch refused to reveal the identity of the two suspects, who are currently in lawful custody in Bridgetown.
And with local banks still doing their tabulation of losses, he said he was not in a position to say how much the robbers had actually made off with in terms of hard cash when they infiltrated the systems of local commercial banks.
Inspector Welch also could not say if there were any local accomplices involved in Sunday’s bank robbery.
“Hopefully, we can make an official statement soon,” he said.
In light of these developments, one regional security official is warning the Caribbean to be careful whom it lets in through the front door.
He reported that over the last six years of increased regional security surveillance, authorities had identified more than 128 nationalities who were of interest to the region.
“We have had persons from Turkistan, Bulgaria, Turkey, Hungary, you name it. And based on what is happening globally at the moment, you cannot discount the impact it will have on our doorstep.
“You have the turmoil in Syria, Afghanisan, and so on, and you have a number of CARICOM countries looking at selling economic citizenship,” he pointed out.
He warned that the two issues were simply not separate, adding that the region should not be surprised when it sees Bulgarians and other nationalities showing up in the region.
“What you need to do is to ensure that your vetting process is sufficiently robust to ensure that you are not allowing the wrong people to pick up on it [economic citizenship] because you are going to get both legitimate and illegitimate people,” he said.
“What you saw last weekend may be new for Barbados, but we have seen similar crimes being committed elsewhere within the region,” he said, recalling a case of fraudulent credit cards in St Lucia a few years ago and in Trinidad where special devices were put into ATM slots to hold the cards of unsuspecting customers and to withdraw loads of cash from their accounts.
“As things become more automated, you should expect to see more of these crimes being committed, unless we can do better at information sharing and stepping up our surveillance,” he said, adding “these are signs of the times”.