Museum Conned Out Of EUR 40,000 By Dutch Fraudster

Museum chiefs trying to recover a EUR-110-million haul stolen in a heist were conned into handing a fortune in cash to a fraudster, prosecutors in Germany have revealed.

The collection of fabulous gems dating back to the 17th century was stolen from the Green Vault museum in Dresden in 2019.

A sword stolen from the historic Green Vault in Dresden, Germany, in November 2019. (Police Saxony/Newsflash)

Now prosecutors have accused a Dutch national of posing as a diamond dealer to con the Dresden State Art Collections out of EUR 40,000 (GBP 35,000) to recover a key piece of the collection.

The 54-year-old suspect – currently in jail on another charge – is being investigated “on suspicion of commercial fraud”, Dresden Public Prosecutor’s office has confirmed.

The heist netted a massive haul of jewels, diamonds and rare artefacts worth more than EUR 110 million (GBP 95.82 million), and was allegedly carried out by members of the Remmo clan, a large family in Germany with Arabic roots.

Now it has emerged that following the heist, the Director General of the State Art Collections, Marion Ackermann, 57, went to Antwerp in December 2021 to meet a conman pretending to be a Dutch diamond dealer.

The fake dealer had told art detective Artur Brand, 52, that he had been offered the breast star of the Polish Order of the White Eagle, one of the prize exhibits from the collection.

Jewel of the Polish White Eagle Order stolen from the historic Green Vault in Dresden, Germany, in November 2019. (Police Saxony/Newsflash)

Calling himself Marcus van N., the Dutchman claimed he planned to buy the diamond-studded piece for EUR 40,000 from an underworld broker and return it to the museum.

So Ackermann went to Antwerp with her colleagues and handed over the cash.

But it turned out the alleged fraudster was lying and the money vanished into thin air, say prosecutors in Germany.

The suspect, who reportedly has a “considerable and relevant” criminal record had been in prison for another matter in the Netherlands since March 2022 and he has now reportedly been transferred to Germany.

Newsflash obtained a statement from the Dresden Public Prosecutor’s Office on Thursday, 17th November, saying: “The public prosecutor’s office in Dresden and the State Criminal Police Office in Saxony are currently investigating a 54-year-old Dutchman on suspicion of commercial fraud.”

The Dresden prosecutors added: “The suspect is accused of contacting a Dutch art detective in December 2021 and posing as a diamond dealer from Antwerp. The breast star of the Polish White Eagle Order, which was stolen during the break-in into the Green Vault, was offered for sale for EUR 40,000.

Hat decoration, so-called heron neck stolen from the historic Green Vault in Dresden, Germany, in November 2019. (Police Saxony/Newsflash)

“He and his boss examined the piece and came to the conclusion that it was actually part of the stolen goods from the Green Vault. The accused pretended to want to buy the piece of jewellery from the vendors for the purpose of returning it to the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden (SKD).”

They said that they could recover some of the stolen treasures and just needed to be fronted EUR 40,000 to do it. Dresden prosecutors said: “As intended by the accused, the art detective then turned to a lawyer who was commissioned by the SKD and a private initiative to deal with the possible recovery of the stolen goods and the offer of a reward for this.

“The lawyer then agreed with the art detective to provide an amount of EUR 40,000 in cash for 27th December 2021, in Antwerp to enable the purchase of the piece of jewellery.”

The prosecutors explained that the art detective’s credibility factored into the decision to hand over the cash, saying: “Since the art detective had already successfully participated in the return of stolen works of art in several cases in the past and the accused’s descriptions initially sounded plausible from the police point of view, several representatives of the SKD, the accused, met on 27th December 2021 and the art detective in Antwerp.

“The accused again stated that he wanted to buy the gem for the SKD. In a longer conversation, he demonstrated extraordinary art expertise. As a result, the representatives of the SKD decided to hand over the cash to the accused for the purpose of buying it back through the art detective, which they did. Contrary to his assurances, the accused fled with the money.

Hutagraffe stolen from the historic Green Vault in Dresden, Germany, in November 2019. (Police Saxony/Newsflash)

“The identity of the accused, who already has a significant and relevant criminal record in the Netherlands, was quickly clarified after brief and intensive investigations. The accused had been in custody in the Netherlands on another matter since the beginning of March.

“At the request of the Dresden public prosecutor’s office, the investigating judge of the Dresden district court issued a European arrest warrant against the accused in May 2022. At the time, the accused was still in custody in the Netherlands on another matter. He was transferred to Germany on 10th November 2022 and brought before the investigating judge at the District Court of Dresden. He executed the arrest warrant against the accused. The accused is now in custody.

“The accused has not yet provided any information on the allegation. The investigations by the public prosecutor’s office in Dresden and the State Criminal Police Office in Saxony are ongoing and will take some time.”

The investigation is ongoing.

Six people have been accused of carrying out the heist. They have been named as Abdul Majed Remmo, 22, Rabih Remmo, 28, Mohamed Remmo, 22, Wissam Remmo, 22, Bashir Remmo, 25, and Ahmed Remmo, 23.

They stand accused of having robbed the historic Green Vault, which is a museum located in the city of Dresden and which contains the largest treasure collection in Europe.

They allegedly broke into the building early in the morning of 25th November 2019 by sawing through a metal grate, before punching holes in a display case with an axe and tearing out 21 pieces of jewellery dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries, as well as other rare artefacts containing a total of 4,300 diamonds worth over EUR 113 million (GBP 94 million).

Investigators also found a window that had been cut into days earlier before being temporarily glued back together. This was not noticed at the time because the area was in a blind spot that the cameras could not see.

Queen Amalie Auguste’s diamond necklace stolen from the historic Green Vault in Dresden, Germany, in November 2019. (Police Saxony/Newsflash)

The case has been widely dubbed the biggest jewellery theft in German history, and the six accused are said to be from the Remmo clan, a criminal network of interconnected families of Arabic origin, with experts estimating the size of the network ranging between 500 and 1,000 individuals.

The defendants were also accused of having committed other crimes to cover up the heist, including burning the getaway car in an underground car park.

The trial is ongoing.

To find out more about the author, editor or agency that supplied this story – please click below.
Story By: Joseph GolderSub-EditorMarija Stojkoska, Agency: Newsflash

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