Bangladesh says Philippines probe of cyber theft nearly complete

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 26, 2016 8:15 AM

DHAKA (Reuters) - The Bangladesh central bank said on Tuesday its Philippine counterpart had nearly completed an investigation into how $81 million of its money wound up in a Manila bank, and that it hoped for the swift return of the stolen funds.

Governor Fazle Kabir told reporters he hoped the Philippine authorities would fix responsibility on the Manila-based Rizal Commercial Banking Corp for disbursing the stolen funds that landed in accounts there.

Hackers broke into Bangladesh Bank's computer systems in February and transferred $81 million from its deposit at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York into four RCBC accounts in a Manila branch. The accounts in the names of individuals had been opened with a $500 deposit and remained inactive for a year.

Kabir said his Philippine counterpart assured him last week that the Manila end of the investigation into the cyber heist, the biggest in banking history, was nearly completed.

"We are hopeful that the findings of the investigation will be in our favor and that the anti-money laundering council of Philippines will hold RCBC as liable," Kabir said at a news conference to announce a new monetary policy.

Bangladesh would be able to get all its money back if the Philippine bank was held responsible for the suspicious accounts into which the money was transferred before being sent to casinos and gambling agents, he added.

In May, RCBC announced its president, Lorenzo Tan, had resigned but cleared him of any responsibility in the money laundering scandal.

A Bangladesh Bank delegation will soon visit the Philippines to try and hasten efforts to recover the funds, officials in Dhaka, the capital, said.

(Reporting by Serajul Quadir; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani and Clarence Fernandez)