Bangladesh to share findings of heist inquiry with Philippines

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 05, 2016 5:58 AM

DHAKA (Reuters) - Bangladesh will share findings from its investigation into how unidentified hackers pulled off one of the world’s biggest cyber bank heists to help speed up recovery of the stolen funds, its law minister said on Monday.

Bangladesh has up to now declined to disclose its findings of an inquiry into how the hackers used stolen Bangladesh Bank credentials to try to transfer nearly $1 billion from its U.S. Federal Reserve account in February.

Philippine Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, who last week met a Bangladesh delegation led by Minister of Law Anisul Huq, said Manila "strongly recommended" Dhaka share the results of its investigation.

While the Bangladesh central bank, the Bangladesh Bank, had previously declined to release any inquiry findings, saying it wanted to deny the perpetrators knowledge of the investigation, it would now do so, Huq told Reuters.

“It is part of co-operation. We will give them an update of our investigation,” he said.

The hackers managed to transfer $81 million via an account at the New York Federal Reserve to four accounts in fake names at a branch of Rizal Commercial Banking Corp in the Philippines.

Most of the money was laundered through Philippine casinos and only about $15 million was recovered from a gaming junket operator and returned to Bangladesh.

Bangladesh has said it wants the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp (RCBC) to compensate it for its losses, but the bank refuses to pay and has said the Bangladesh central bank was "negligent".

Huq last week said RCBC should shoulder the burden for accepting stolen funds.

RCBC was fined a record one billion pesos ($20 million) by the Philippine central bank for its failure to prevent the movement of the stolen Bangladesh money through its bank.

Huq said paying that fine was tantamount to accepting culpability.

A Philippine anti-money laundering agency last month filed charges against five RCBC officials in connection with the theft.

No arrests have been made despite investigations by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, Interpol, Bangladesh police and authorities in the Philippines.

(Reporting by Ruma Paul; Editing by Robert Birsel)


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