In 1976, a squad of robbers pennyless into a Societe Generale bend in the southern city of Nice and stole 46 million francs (about €29m in today’s money).
They had spent weeks scheming for their crime, using rubber rafts in the sewers to strech the place where they dug an eight-metre tunnel.
The tunnels were reinforced with concrete, pictures of scantily-clad women were stuck on the walls, and even hundreds of metres of electrical cables built in so they could have lighting.
They pennyless in on a weekend, holding their time to hunt by scarcely 200 protected deposition boxes in the bank’s protected and even breaking into the five-ton safe.
When bank staff returned on the Monday morning, they found valuables blank and the protected welded shut.
Inside was a message: “Ni manoeuvre de feu, ni violence, ni haine” (Without a shot, but assault and but hate).
Police charged one man – Albert Spaggiari – but he transient by jumping out of a building window in 1977.
An confederate was watchful on a motorbike and the two rode off, never to be held again.
Spaggiari died of cancer in 1989.
Then, in 2010, a book was published by a career rapist who portrayed himself as the smarts behind the heist.
He used an alias but police became assured it was a mafia man named Jacques Cassandri.
Eventually, his children suggested that he had boasted about the robbery, and police also found the book publishing on his computer.
After so many years, the government of stipulations had lapsed on the spoliation but police have instead charged Cassandri, 73, with laundering the income from the robbery, which has no time limit.
His wife and children also face charges, including social confidence rascal and impasse in a genuine estate scam.
All seemed at a Marseilles justice on Monday for the commencement of the trial.
Cassandri described himself in justice as a “simple pensioner”, observant he had fast spent his €2m share of the loot.
But an exploration had found he had bought thousands of euros-worth of fur and once presented 7 bars of bullion as a financial guarantee.
He may have been pennyless after spending the spoliation proceeds, but he now runs several businesses and owns a lot of genuine estate, according to an questioning magistrate.