Greatest robbery of a bank

Greatest robbery of a bank
Dar es Salaam Investment Bank robbery
282,000,000 UK pound(s) sterling
Iraq (Baghdad)
11 July 2007

The largest bank robbery took place on 11 July 2007 at the Dar es Salaam Investment Bank in Baghdad, Iraq. The theft was reportedly an inside job, with two (or perhaps three, reports vary) of the bank's security guards involved. The thieves made off with $282 million in US Dollars and 220 million Iraqi Dinars (worth around $173,000 at the time).

As this robbery took place during the Iraqi Civil War (2006–2008), the resources and reach of the Iraqi police were severely constrained and no-one seems to have ever been charged. It is likely that the guards were either working for or with one of the sectarian militias active in Baghdad at the time.

The biggest unanswered question, however, is how a relatively small private bank came to have $282 million US Dollars in cash. Reports immediatedly suspected a link between the cash, Iraqi Government corruption, poor financial management on the part of the Coalition Provisional Authority (who famously shipped in more than 300 tons of cash during the first few months of the occupation) and the sectarian militias that filled the power vacuum in post-invasion Iraq. As a consquence of these politically difficult questions, there seems to have been little apetite to get to the bottom of this case.

The Dar Es Salaam Bank (which was 70% owned by HSBC between 2005 and 2013) remained in business for more than a decade after the heist, but seems to have shut down in 2018. Its last financial statements were submitted to the Iraqi Securities and Exchange Commission in Q2 2018.

The history of this category is complicated by the fact that many of the largest thefts in history have been carried out by heads of state against the banking systems of their own countries. In many cases, such as Saddam Hussein's removal of $920 million in cash reserves from the Iraqi Central Bank on 18 March 2003, this action isn't technically illegal as it was carried out by an absolute ruler unfettered by the rule of law.