BOE Closes Book on Theft-by-Underwear Saga That Inspired Films

(Bloomberg) -- A 26-year drama that started with a woman stealing old banknotes by stuffing them into her underwear and went on to spawn two trials -- and two movies -- has finally come to an end for the Bank of England.

The BOE’s Court of Directors agreed to “draw a line” under the theft estimated at more 600,000 pounds ($800,000) discovered at its Essex incinerator plant in 1992, according to minutes of its February meeting published Wednesday, citing Chief Operating Officer Joanna Place.

“Further to a minute of 7 April 1994, Ms Place said that following a property sale, the Bank had now recovered substantially all of the funds stolen in 1992 by staff in the returned note operation at Debden. Court agreed that it would be right now to draw a line.”

The conspiracy between four BOE employees and their spouses saw the group switching padlocks to gain access to cages containing cash sent to the facility north east of London. Contemporary news reports describe plant worker Christine Gibson then removing banknotes from the building by hiding them in her underwear.

While most of the culprits escaped criminal prosecution due to witnesses’ refusal to talk to the police, they were ordered by the High Court in 1994 to repay more than 500,000 pounds plus costs. The crime came to light after Gibson’s husband attempted to deposit 100,000 pounds in bundles of 20 and 50-pound notes.

While the security-conscious central bank may wish to draw a close to the matter, the events were immortalized in popular culture through a British television adaptation called “Hot Money” in 2001. The 2008 U.S. remake -- “Mad Money,” set at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City -- starred Diane Keaton and Katie Holmes.

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