B’desh Bank ac­knowl­edges theft of for­eign re­serve

The Pak Banker - - COMPANIES/BOSS -

Bangladesh Bank has ac­knowl­edged the theft of $101 mil­lion from its for­eign re­serve de­posited with the US Fed­eral Re­serve Bank last month but claimed it thwarted an at­tempt to hack $870 mil­lion more.

A Bangladesh Bank spokesman overnight of­fi­cially con­firmed the theft amid me­dia up­roar in the past two days af­ter sources in the cen­tral bank hinted un­known hack­ers stole the money while $81 mil­lion of the amount en­tered the Philip­pines and the rest went to Sri Lank to be used in casino busi­ness.

Talk­ing to news­men late on Wed­nes­day, he said hack­ers breached the Bangladesh Bank se­cu­rity sys­tem in early Fe­bru­ary and stole cre­den­tials for pay­ment trans­fers, in one of the big­gest bank thefts in his­tory.

"Then they or­dered trans­fers out of a Fed­eral Re­serve Bank of New York ac­count held by Bangladesh Bank," cen­tral bank spokesman, Sub­hankar Saha, said.

He added that the hack­ers sent 35 ad­vices to the US Fed­eral Re­serve but only 5 of those were com­plied with un­til the theft was un­earthed.

Bangladesh Bank of­fi­cials said of the stolen amount $81 mil­lion en­tered the Philip­pine bank­ing sys­tem on Fe­bru­ary 5, and sev­eral lay­ers of sub­se­quent trans­ac­tions made its way out into Hong Kong and the rest $20 mil­lion ended up in Sri Lanka.

They said the thieves there­after took an at­tempt to laun­der a fur­ther $870 mil­lion through the same chan­nel, but their plan was foiled af­ter an Amer­i­can bank re­called the trans­fer or­der.

"The Amer­i­can bank con­tacted us when they got their anti-money laun­der­ing alert to con­firm if the pay or­der ac­tu­ally came from us ... we straight­away replied in the neg­a­tive and so the pay­ment was stopped," Saha said.

Cy­ber se­cu­rity ex­perts said the per­pe­tra­tors of the $100 mil­lion dig­i­tal heist had deep knowl­edge of the in­sti­tu­tion's in­ter­nal work­ings, which they might have gained by spy­ing on bank work­ers.

Bangladesh Bank said they have launched an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the theft and ex­pected the amount to be re­turned while un­con­firmed re­ports said the cen­tral bank sent its two of­fi­cials to the Philip­pines to de­mand the re­turn of the funds.

Ac­cord­ing to in­ter­na­tional me­dia re­ports, the US Fed re­sponded to the hack­ing say­ing there was no ev­i­dence its sys­tems were com­pro­mised in the cy­ber at­tack.

It said they fol­lowed nor­mal pro­ce­dures when re­spond­ing to re­quests that ap­peared to be from Bangladesh Bank, which were made and au­then­ti­cated over SWIFT.

Ac­cord­ing to re­ports pub­lished in Philip­pines me­dia, a Chi­nese-Filipino busi­ness­man was the mas­ter­mind of he theft who had moved the funds to three casi­nos, where they were con­verted into chips for bet­ting at the gam­ing ta­bles, ac­cord­ing to the Philip­pine Daily In­quirer.

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