Bangladesh $81mn heist: Finance minister claims bank officials must have been involved

Dhaka: Bangladesh is suspecting the involvement of insiders within the central bank in the USD 81 million heist by hackers from its foreign exchange account in the US Federal Reserve in New York, in a scam that shocked the financial world.

"Of course, it (heist) would have never been possible unless some of the local people (Bangladesh Bank officials) were involved...the order for the transaction has to be complied with only after biometrics of six people are confirmed," finance minister AMA Muhith said when asked if he believed the central bank officials had any hand in the theft.

Muhith also said that he was unsure about the possibility of recovering the stolen amount.

"I am not sure if the stolen amount could really be recovered, though we got back some of the amount from Sri Lanka," he told Prothom Alo newspaper.

Bangladesh mn heist: Finance minister claims bank officials must have been involved

AMA Muhith. Reuters

The finance minister's comments came as US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is expected to join hands with Bangladesh police's Criminal Investigation Agency (FBI) in investigating the heist.

"We will hold a meeting with the FBI officials on Sunday," CID's special superintendent Abdullah Hel Baqui said as the agency earlier seized the central bank's computer server to scrutinise the security of the server networking system.

In a scam that shocked the financial world, unknown hackers tried to steal around USD 1 billion from Bangladesh's deposits with the US Federal Reserve in New York on 5 February, using information stolen through the malware.

They got away with USD 81 million which was entered into the banking system of the Philippines while some amount to the Sri Lanka visibly to be used in casino businesses.

Sri Lanka, however, immediately stopped the delivery of the amount that entered their banking system and returned the money immediately, complying with a Bangladesh Bank request.

But the uncertainty over the recovery of the stolen amount from the Philippines grips Bangladesh as reports from Manila said the amount by now appeared to have transferred out of the country.

According to the Philippines' Inquirer newspaper, Philippine Senator Sergio Osmeña on Thursday said there was a "very low" chance that Manila would be able to retrieve the USD 81 million stolen from the Bangladesh Bank because the money is now likely outside the country.

Osmena, however, said tracking the money would depend on the "cooperation of casinos at the resumption today of the Senate inquiry" into the money-laundering scheme.

"It would be very difficult to retrieve the money given that it has entered the black hole," the daily reported, quoting Sen Teofisto Guingona, chair of the Senate blue ribbon committee, as saying.


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Updated Date: Mar 18, 2016 19:02:32 IST

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