Inside the workings of a failed high-tech bank heist

Criminals had bank's security boss on board and a list of passwords at their fingertips

Defendant Hugh Rodley, a self-titled Lord of the Manor, travelled to Gran Canaria over the weekend to conduct the money laundering operation. He had created a web of front companies during a series of exotic trips, including visits to the Seychelles and Singapore.

Among the companies destined to receive the massive sums were Mediatel International PLC, Furzefield Ltd, Expoinvestment SL and Investorscan.

Rodley, whose real name is Brian McGough, was a shadowy entrepreneur who remained a mystery to his neighbours in Church End, near Tewkesbury. Locals knew him best for two petty confrontations with the authorities, one over an overgrown hedge and a second over an unpaid lawnmower bill. But detectives said a determined fraudster who was being monitored by several police forces lurked behind the eccentric, bow tie-wearing facade. bHis long-term business partner Bernard Davies, 74, faced the same charges and killed himself on the eve of the trial.

Poelvoorde and Van Osselaer were identified by a Belgian fraud squad official after Soca circulated CCTV images from the bank worldwide.

When Poelvoorde was arrested at Brussels Airport attempting to travel on a false passport a USB stick was found in his pocket. It contained screen grabs from the Japanese bank and detectives suspect he may have been preparing for a second raid.

Detectives suspect the ringleaders outsourced some of the money laundering operation to other criminals who have not been traced. One senior detective involved in the inquiry said the gang "outsourced" money laundering and technical expertise.

The detective said Ł230 million was a "fair return" for the investment in half a dozen front companies and a series of international flights.

He said: "These people are not the full conspiracy. There must be other people involved in this. None of these people are the main sponsor of this. This is not people setting up accounts at NatWest to launder money, it is a sophisticated money laundering process. These are only the accounts on the surface. There will be other accounts behind this and money will move from one to the other to frustrate law enforcement agencies. By the time we have been through all the jurisdictions to track it down it has gone."

Speaking about the scale of the theft, he said: "The Ł53 million Kent robbery was the biggest theft prior to this, and this was potentially four-and-a-half times bigger than that. I think Ł230 million would certainly be up there around the world."