Bangladesh Bank released a statement on Monday to the media on Monday, saying its Financial Intelligence Unit is working with the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) of the Philippines to recover the rest of the funds.
But the central bank did not say how much money has been recovered.
To questions by reporters on the matter, General Manager AFM Asaduzzaman said, “Whatever has been said in the media statement is the version of Bangladesh Bank for the time being. Nothing more can be said in the interest of a fair investigation.”
According to media reports, AMLC is investigating a money laundering case involving $100 million reportedly stolen by hackers mostly from the accounts of a Bangladeshi bank.
A report by the Philippines’ Daily Inquirer said “funds had been brought into the Philippines’ banking system, sold to a black market foreign exchange broker, transferred to at least three large local casinos, sold back to the money broker and moved out to overseas accounts – all in a matter of days”.
According to reports of other media outlets, Chinese hackers stole money from the Bangladesh Bank account with the Federal Reserve in New York.
Of the funds, $75 million was transferred to a bank in the Philippines and the rest to a Sri Lankan bank, the reporters suggested.
The central bank said the AMLC had filed a case over the laundering of money and taken measures to freeze the bank accounts in question.
It said the World Bank, supported by its ‘forensic investigative team’ which is manned by a cyber expert, is also working with Bangladesh Bank to trace and recover the money.
Two Bangladesh Bank officials have already visited the Phillipines and held meetings with officials of the country’s central bank –the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) – for the recovery of the money.
According to the statement, the central bank will move court once the AMLC completes its investigation and will tap the World Bank’s Stolen Assets Recovery Initiative (StAR), if necessary, to get the money back.
Finance minister was in dark
Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith says he was unaware of the central bank losing money to hackers.
He told reporters on Monday, “Like you, I have come to know of the matter from the media. Bangladesh Bank did not inform me of anything.”
The minister described the incident as ‘unusual’ but declined further comment on it.
He faced questions on the matter when he talked to reporters after holding a meeting with the World Bank’s new Resident Representative Qimiao Fan.
Order for cyber security
The central bank on Thursday asked the banks to ensure safe use of information technology in official work and remain cautious about running online operation.
The bank said it is working on making cyber security ‘foolproof’.
The media statement referred to risks posed by information technology to the financial sector and said the Bangladesh Bank had taken immediate measures on learning of the cyber theft. – Agencies