Bangladesh cen­tral bank chief quits over $101 mil­lion heist

The Pak Banker - - FRONT PAGE -

Bangladesh cen­tral bank gov­er­nor Atiur Rah­man has sub­mit­ted his res­ig­na­tion as ten­sions es­ca­late with the fi­nance min­is­ter af­ter hack­ers stole about $101 mil­lion from the na­tion's for­eign re­serves.

Rah­man sub­mit­ted his res­ig­na­tion on Tues­day to Prime Min­is­ter Sheikh Hasina, ac­cord­ing to A.F.M. Asaduz­za­man, a spokesman at Bangladesh Bank. Fi­nance Min­is­ter Abul Maal Ab­dul Muhith, who called the cen­tral bank's han­dling of the theft "very in­com­pe­tent," said a for­mer bu­reau­crat would likely take his place.

"If it's my fault, they can take ac­tion against me, against Bangladesh Bank," Rah­man told Bloomberg on Tues­day be­fore meet­ing with the prime min­is­ter. "But they can­not in­sult me in pub­lic."

The cy­ber­heist has rat­tled au­thor­i­ties from Bangladesh to Sri Lanka to the Philip­pines as cen­tral banks around the globe awaken to the threat posed by hack­ers. The Bank of Eng­land faces "ad­vanced, per­sis­tent" cy­ber threats, ac­cord­ing to a let­ter by the U.K. cen­tral bank made pub­lic af­ter a Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion re­quest by Bloomberg.

The Bangladesh theft is also mak­ing head­lines in the Philip­pines, where much of the stolen money ended up. On Tues­day, a bank man­ager ac­cused of al­low­ing the funds to be with­drawn in­voked her right against self-in­crim­i­na­tion as law­mak­ers ques­tioned her over the crime.

Bangladesh's cen­tral bank said it re­cov­ered $20 mil­lion of the stolen funds, and $81 mil­lion is out­stand­ing. At­tempts by hack­ers to with­draw an­other $850 mil­lion were foiled in part be­cause they mis­spelled the name of one of the re­cip­i­ents.

Rah­man told re­porters that he wasn't a "tech­ni­cal guy" and was "puz­zled" by the theft. He was due to re­tire in Au­gust, when he turns 65, af­ter helm­ing the cen­tral bank for seven years. Ih­sanul Karim, the prime min­is­ter's press sec­re­tary, didn't an­swer sev­eral calls to his mo­bile phone.

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