MISSING gold from the Brinks Mat bullion robbery is in the Philippines, says a member of the gang who stole it.

In an exclusive interview with the Sunday Independent from his West Country home, one of the men behind Britain's biggest heist has sensationally claimed that the £28million haul was stolen booty belonging to Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos and his wife Imelda.

And almost all three tonnes of it went back to the Philippines after the robbery, says the source, a close friend of gangland killer Kenneth Noye, who helped mastermind the raid.

The Indy has agreed to not to publish the gang member's identity but has passed full details of his extraordinary revelations to detectives at New Scotland Yard investigating the 1983 robbery.

Speaking from his sprawling home, surrounded by security cameras and guarded by two dogs, named Brinks and Mat, the leading underworld figure, said: 'Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos had stolen the bullion from their own people and were looking for a safe home for the loot in Britain.

'The Brinks Mat gang was simply hired to retrieve the gold from the Marcos family. All of it was returned to the Philippines for which gang members received substantial payment.

'None of the gold remained in this country, that is why the police will never find any of it here. Everything went back, the gold that has been found was not from Brinks Mat, and the police know that.

'They could carry out tests on the gold to prove that.

'Everyone thinks that the gang was looking for travellers' cheques and stumbled on the gold.

'But if that was true then why did they have three lorries waiting to take it away? You don't need lorries to steal a few travellers' cheques.'

The Brinks Mat insider refused to reveal who had hired the gang or how the bullion was returned to the Philippines but claimed insurance money had been paid to the Marcos family after the robbery and police documents relating to the case referred to Imelda Marcos.

During the now infamous raid at Heathrow airport, the gang doused security guards with petrol and threatened to ignite it unless they co-operated. Convicted road rage killer Kenneth Noye, 53, whose wife Brenda now lives in Looe, was jailed for 14 years for handling the bullion.

This month detectives searching for the loot searched two yards behind a scrap metal merchants in Hastings, Sussex. And it is likely that more raids will follow, a police spokesman said.

The late President Ferdinand's glamorous wife Imelda was born into poverty but amassed a huge wealth of her own.

After her husband's death in 1989 she stood trial in New York to answer charges of concealing ownership of US property and other goods, bought with stolen Philippine government funds.

She was acquitted, with her lawyer claiming the responsibility had lain solely with her husband.

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