BB yet to sue Rizal Bank for $81m of stolen money
Published : Monday, 9 July, 2018 at 12:00 AM Count : 656
The Bangladesh Bank is yet to file a case against Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) of the Philippines with a US court to recover US$81 million lost in a cyber heist from its foreign reserve. Earlier, Finance Minister AMA Muhith told journalists that the central bank will file case against the Rizal Bank by April. Financial Institutions Division (FID) source said that the lawsuit with US court is very expensive. So they were apprehensive about the filing the case, sources added.
However, officials at the central bank requesting anonymity told the Daily Observer that they are waiting for approval from the Finance Ministry. But it will be done before February 2019, which would be three years from the event -- and the time limit for filing a case with a New York court. Meanwhile, the central bank earlier said they will take action after submitting digital forensic report by the CID. The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) on July 5 submitted a digital forensic report on the Bangladesh Bank over the $81 million theft to the Philippines court.
Special Superintendent Mollah Nazrul Islam of the CID's Organised and Financial Crime unit said, "The forensic report submitted to the court in the Philippines stipulates that the money was stolen from Bangladesh Bank's reserve through hacking." However, the central bank has not yet taken the decision to file case against the RCBC, source added. Citizens from as many as nine countries, including the Philippines, Sri Lanka, China and Japan, are involved in the heist, one of the biggest in history. Investigators have written to the countries seeking particulars of some 40 suspects, but only the Philippines have responded.
Unidentified hackers stole $81 million from Bangladesh Bank's account at the New York Fed in February 2016, using fraudulent orders on the SWIFT payments system.
The money was sent to accounts at Manila-based RCBC and then disappeared into the casino industry in the Philippines. For its part, RCBC said the cyber heist was an inside job and Bangladesh Bank was engaging in a cover-up by maligning it. "Bangladesh Bank should stop making RCBC its scapegoat," the Philippines bank said in a statement. Reuters reported in December that Bangladesh Bank had asked the New York Fed to join a lawsuit it was considering filing against RCBC seeking damages.
Still there is no word on who was responsible and Bangladesh Bank has been able to retrieve only about $15 million, mostly from a Manila junket operator.
The Philippines central bank fined RCBC a record one billion pesos ($20 million) in 2016 for its failure to prevent the movement of the stolen money through it.
RCBC has blamed rogue employees and Philippines prosecutors have filed money laundering charges against a former RCBC bank manager and four people who owned the bank accounts where the funds were sent, but are not identifiable since the accounts were in fake names. They are the only people to be formally cited anywhere in the world in association with the crime. RCBC has said it would not pay any compensation to Bangladesh Bank and the Dhaka bank bore responsibility for the theft since it was negligent.