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SAM

Published:
2018-06-26 11:30:33 BdST

Philippines reseeks probe report on BB reserve heist


FT ONLINE

The Philippines government has again requested Bangladesh to forward an investigation report on reserve heist from the Bangladesh Bank's account at the New York Fed, finance ministry sources said.

The request came as they said an investigation report is necessary to continue with legal cases filed in the Philippines to recover the stolen money.

"Let me reiterate, however, the need for an investigation report from the Bangladesh authorities in order to move forward," Philippines Finance Secretary Carlos G Dominguez said in a recent letter to Finance Minister AMA Muhith.

He also requested the minister to endorse that it was a hacking incident.

"At the very least, we need an affidavit to confirm that there was a hacking," he wrote to Mr Muhith.

Mr Muhith had a meeting with him at the latter's office in May when the minister visited the Philippines to attend an annual meeting of the Asian Development Bank.

In the meeting, they discussed the issues relating to the reserve heist and the possible way-out in recovering the money.

Mr Dominguez informed the minister that the government of Philippines had taken action against Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) for its non-compliance with the central bank's regulations.

The government also filed cases against RCBC for committing the offence, he said.

In February 2016, cybercriminals stole US$101 million from the Bangladesh Bank reserves deposited with the US Federal Reserve Bank.

They channelled the money to the bank accounts at RCBC in Manila by placing fraudulent orders on the SWIFT payments system.

A sum of nearly $20 million was recovered from Sri Lanka.

But the lion's share of the booty landed in the Philippines. It was reported to have been squandered through gaming in casinos, among other matters of misdealing.

Later, some $15 million could be recovered from the Philippines. Channelling some more money back to Bangladesh is also underway, according to officials.

There is no significant progress on return of the rest $66 million until now, though the New York Fed, Bangladesh Bank and SWIFT are working together with the authorities concerned in the Philippines.

Amid such a situation, Bangladesh has already decided to file a case with a New York court against RCBC to recover the stolen money.

Officials said as a last resort, before filing the case, Bangladesh also wants to settle the issue out of court with help of the Philippines central bank.

After the reserve heist incident, the government formed a three-member probe body led by Dr Mohammed Farashuddin. The committee submitted a report within a month.

However, the government did not make the report public. Even requests made by the Philippines government several times for sending them the probe report have not been considered.

The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) is also investigating the incident, but they are yet to submit their report.

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