Where the Missing Millions Went After Britain's Biggest Gold Heist - Atlas Obscura
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Where the Missing Millions Went After Britain’s Biggest Gold Heist

Newly leaked documents reveal a complex money-laundering scheme.

At dawn on November 26, 1983, six men broke into a Brink’s-Mat warehouse outside of London’s Heathrow Airport, with a plan to steal millions in cash. What they found instead was gold bullion, eventually making off with 3.9 tons, or about $112 million in current U.S. dollars.

The theft then was called the “crime of the century,” and in the intervening years several of the conspirators were arrested. But many of the proceeds from the heist, and most of the gold, have never been recovered. 

On Monday, in response to a massive leak of documents known as the Panama Papers, the Guardian suggested one possible reason why: a money-laundering scheme that had been in part facilitated by Mossack Fonseca, the Panamanian law firm at the heart of the document leak.

According to the Guardian, six thieves staged the Brink’s-Mat heist, but it was a man who wasn’t there, Gordon Parry, who laundered some its proceeds, using Mossack Fonseca in a complicated scheme to keep it away from British authorities. Jürgen Mossack, one of the firm’s partners, also later became a “legal advisor” to Parry, helping him in the scheme, which involved a series of front companies and secret accounts. (Mossack Fonseca, for its part, denied the allegations in a statement to the Guardian.)

In all, some £10.7 million ($15.3 million) was laundered, but Parry couldn’t escape authorities forever; he was later arrested and sentenced to 10 years in prison. Per the Guardian, he now lives with his wife on an estate that was purchased decades ago with laundered money. The home once belonged to the girlfriend of the robbery’s ring leader. She kept two dogs at the house, one named Brink’s, the other, Mat.