Money, Money, Money, Money
In a huge hacking scheme involving the Bangladesh Bank and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Bangladesh Bank (BB) officials claim that hackers stole $100 million (Tk 780 crore) from their foreign currency account.
This crime takes place during a sensitive time when the Bangladesh’s banking system is trying to recover from the recent ATM and credit card fraud. The officials also said that almost all the money that was stolen was transferred to the Philippines banking system and a small part of it went to Sri Lanka. The suspected hackers believed to be Chinese hackers transferred the money online on February 5th. The officials believe to have found the perpetrators and claimed they were dealing with the issue.
The BB, which has around $28 billion in foreign currency reserves with a third of it being kept by the Bank of England and the Federal Reserve Bank in the US in the form of liquid assets said in one of its statements that the BB said some of the money had been recovered but there was no mention of the amount. The rest of the foreign currency reserve is stored as bonds and gold.
The statement also went on to say that the finance intelligence unit branch in Bangladesh, the Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit (BFIU) was working with the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) of the Philippines, where they believe the money to be, to try and recover the money from there. It was believed that the AMLC had already filed a case and received permission to freeze accounts of those alleged to be involved.
It Goes Back And Forth
There has been a tit and tat of blame between the Bangladesh Bank and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, with one deputy governor of BB who spoke on anonymity accusing the Reserve Bank in New York of not doing due diligence in dealing with the hacking threat. The Federal Reserve Bank however denied these claims and said that its payment systems were not breached, according to Reuters.
The spokeswoman for the Federal Reserve Bank, Andrea Priest, said that “to date, there is no evidence of any attempt to penetrate Federal Reserve systems in connection with the payments in question, and there is no evidence that any Fed systems were compromised.” The Finance Minister in Bangladesh, Mr AMA Muhith, said this was a very unusual situation for them. He said he had not been told by the BB what had happened and had only seen it in the news for the first-time.
Steps were in place to recover the money. The laundered money can be recovered through the Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative (StAR), which is partnership between the World Bank group and the United Nations office on drugs and crime (UNODC), which supports international efforts to end safe havens for corrupt funds.