BB chief orders to file lawsuit in US court over reserve heist

Golam Mowla
Published : 19:01, Sep 11, 2018 | Updated : 19:21, Sep 11, 2018

Commuters pass by the front of the Bangladesh central bank building in Dhaka, Bangladesh on March 8, 2016. REUTERS

The Bangladesh Bank chief has instructed officials to start proceedings for filing a lawsuit in US court for damages over the 2016 reserve heist.
Devprasad Devnath, an adviser to the central bank’s Financial Intelligence Unit, said that the instructions by Governor Fazle Kabir came on Tuesday.
“The lawsuit may be filed before the general election. We have started the procedures in line with the governor’s orders,” he told Bangla Tribune.
Hackers stole $81 million from Bangladesh Bank’s account at the New York Fed, using fraudulent orders on the SWIFT payments system.
The fund was sent to Manila-based Rizal Commercial Banking Corp or RCBC and then disappeared into the casino industry in the Philippines.
Bangladesh has been able to retrieve only about $15 million, mostly from a casino junket operator.
Another $17 million has been traced to money remittance company Philrem. The Anti-Money Laundering Council in the Philippines has confiscated the fund and a lawsuit is ongoing.
A further $29 million has been traced to Casino Solaire, now frozen by the Phillipines court in a pending case. The remaining $14 million is yet to be traced.
On Sept 6, the US government alleged in court complaint that a North Korean hacker man was behind breaking into the Bangladesh Bank’s system.
“Evidences presented in the Philippines court on Jul 5 proved that the system was hacked, which also came out in investigations conducted by the US. The FBI has found the involvement of a North Korean man in it, raising the possibility of recovering the stolen funds,” Devnath said.
North Korean national Park Jin Hyok worked as part of a team of hackers, also known as the Lazarus Group, to try to breach multiple other US businesses, according to the complaint filed in the US court.
In 2016 and 2017, Park's targets included defence contractor Lockheed Martin Corp. The complaint said there was no evidence Lockheed was breached.
The US Treasury Department has imposed sanctions against Park and the Chinese-based front company he worked for, Chosun Expo.
Park has been charged and sanctioned by the US government in the 2017 global WannaCry ransomware cyberattack and the 2014 cyberassault on Sony Corp, according to US officials.
In the audacious bank heist, hackers tried to swindle $100 million belonging to Bangladesh from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York using forged commands through SWIFT messaging system.
The hackers siphoned off $81 million to accounts in the Philippines using five messages. Another $20 million was wired to Sri Lanka.
Though the Sri Lankan transfer was stopped successfully, the fund wired to the Philippines made its way to gambling dens, making it impossible to be recovered.
People in Bangladesh could learn about the largest cyber heist in the world through reports published in a Filipino newspaper a month after the incident.
The heist cost the then-Governor Atiur Rahman his job after he drew flak for keeping the theft under wraps. It was followed by a major overhaul of the top brass of Bangladesh’s central bank.
The Bangladesh government had commissioned a probe body over the theft, which filed its findings in May 2016.
The government, however, has not made it public as well as turned down Philippines’ RCBC bank’s request to share the findings with them.