Bangladesh bank of­fi­cials in­volved in heist: In­ves­ti­ga­tor

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Some Bangladesh cen­tral bank of­fi­cials de­lib­er­ately ex­posed its com­puter sys­tems and en­abled hack­ers to steal $81 mil­lion from its ac­count at the Fed­eral Re­serve Bank of New York in Fe­bru­ary, a top po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tor in Dhaka told Reuters on Mon­day. The com­ments by Mo­ham­mad Shah Alam, head of the Foren­sic Train­ing In­sti­tute of the Bangladesh po­lice’s crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion depart­ment, are the first sign that in­ves­ti­ga­tors have got a firm lead in one of the world’s big­gest cy­ber heists, which had prompted months of in­ter­na­tional fin­ger­point­ing. Ar­rests are soon likely, he said.

On Thurs­day, the head of a Bangladesh gov­ern­ment panel that in­ves­ti­gated the heist said five bank of­fi­cials were guilty of neg­li­gence but that they were only un­wit­ting ac­com­plices. Alam told Reuters his in­ves­ti­ga­tions had dis­cov­ered that some bank of­fi­cials had know­ingly cre­ated vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties in the bank’s con­nec­tion to the SWIFT global mes­sag­ing and pay­ments sys­tem. “Bangladesh Bank’s SWIFT network was made in­se­cure by some bank em­ploy­ees in con­nivance with some for­eign peo­ple,” he said. “They knew what they were do­ing.”

He de­clined to name the sus­pects or say how many there were. Alam said in­ves­ti­ga­tors were now try­ing to find out how the mid-rank­ing of­fi­cials were con­nected to the hack­ers and whether they ben­e­fited fi­nan­cially from the heist. Asked if the of­fi­cials would be ar­rested, he said: “We are very close to it.” The ap­par­ent mo­men­tum comes af­ter months of trad­ing blame among Bangladesh Bank, the New York Fed, SWIFT, and a Philip­pine lender that re­ceived much of the stolen funds be­fore they dis­ap­peared. The heist prompted an in­ter­na­tional probe headed by the US Fed­eral Bureau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Sep­a­rately SWIFT, or the So­ci­ety for World­wide In­ter­bank Fi­nan­cial Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion, told Reuters its mes­sag­ing sys­tem has been tar­geted in a “mean­ing­ful” num­ber of other at­tacks this year us­ing a sim­i­lar ap­proach as the Bangladesh in­ci­dent. Bangladesh Bank spokesman Sub­hankar Saha de­clined to com­ment on Alam’s com­ments. A New York Fed spokeswoman also de­clined com­ment. An­other in­ves­ti­ga­tor in Dhaka, who de­clined to be named, said more than 100 Bangladesh Bank em­ploy­ees had been in­ter­viewed in con­nec­tion with the heist, and some were barred from leav­ing the coun­try. —AFP

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