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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Bankers Suspect Guards Helped Armed Robbery

Two security guards employed by Toribank may have been involved in the largest bank robbery in Russian history last week in which more than $700,000 was stolen, an official for the Russian Banks' Association said Tuesday.

Vitaly Sidorov, an executive director of the association uniting 800 Russian commercial banks, said that at about midnight Saturday four armed robbers in masks knocked at the side door of Toribank in central Moscow, and two guards on duty just opened the door.

"The behavior of the bank's guards was very strange and illogical, probably, they were involved in this burglary," Sidorov said. "It was the biggest bank robbery in this country,"

Sidorov also said it was not unusual for former or present bank employees to take part in thefts of their bank's money.

"It is rather typical when bank employees steal money from the banks where they work because only these people have all necessary information about the access to the cash," Sidorov said.

Sidorov confirmed Russian media reports that the robbers had struck one guard with a pistol and then tied both of them hand and foot.

Only after several hours did the guards manage to free themselves from the ropes and call police.

"Most of the guards' actions are misunderstood," he said, adding that authorities of Toribank are conducting their own investigation.

The robbers opened the bank's safe with the help of welding equipment. There were 1,288,576 billion rubles (over $700,000) in the safe, Sidorov said. They took the money and escaped quickly in two cars.

"For the first time criminals attacked a bank building," Sidorov said. "In the past they preferred to deal with banks' cars transporting money."

Vladimir Vershkov, a spokesman for the Moscow police, declined to comment on the incident.