Bangladesh once again weighs suing NY Fed over cyber heist after Philippines bank’s statement
Senior Correspondent bdnews24.com
Published: 2016-11-30 21:56:25.0 BdST Updated: 2016-11-30 23:35:53.0 BdST
After the latest statement by the Philippines' RCBC Bank that Bangladesh has no case against it, Finance Minister AMA Muhith says they were once again considering filing a lawsuit against the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
In February this year, unidentified cyber criminals attempted to steal $1 billion from Bangladesh Bank's account with the NY Fed.
They, however, managed to wire $81 million to four accounts with RCBC branch in Manila.
The money trail was lost as most of it was laundered through casinos. However, about $15 million has been recovered from a casino junket operator and returned to Bangladesh.
Amid Dhaka’s negotiations with Manila to recover the rest of the stolen money, the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp (RCBC) said on Tuesday it is not liable to compensate Bangladesh.
"RCBC is not the proximate cause of the theft. They have no case against us. BB (Bangladesh Bank) was the one who was negligent," said a statement by the bank’s lawyer.
Speaking to the media in Dhaka on Wednesday, Finance Minister Muhith described the RCBC’s stance as ‘unethical’.
“I am not very sure whether we can move the International Court of Justice over this matter, but we can sue the Federal Reserve (Bank of New York).”
The Bangladesh finance minister said he thinks the NY Fed should be sued. “But I am not so sure when to initiate it.”
Muhith had floated the idea of suing NY Fed after the cyber heist came into light in late February.
In late March, Bangladesh appointed Ajmalul Hossain QC as its counsel to see whether proper procedures were followed after the NY Fed had received fake transfer advices to wire $81 million to accounts in Philippines.
Ajmalul had then said Dhaka may not have to move the court as the NY Fed may return the stolen money to protect its reputation.
But the Federal Reserve Bank had pinned the blame on‘faulty cyber security’ of the Bangladesh Bank and said they followed ‘proper procedures’ after receiving the advices.
The wire transfers were requested by using the messaging platform of SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication), which also declined to take responsibility.
‘No idea what happened’
Bangladesh has already got back $15 million of the stolen fund, recovered by Manila from a casino junket operator.
A Bangladesh delegation led by Law Minister Anisul Huq is now at the Filipino capital in an effort to recover the rest $66 million.
Minister Muhith said on Wednesday, “I have spoken to them (the delegation) before they left. I specifically told them to thank Rizal Bank…but I have no idea what has changed in the meantime.”
Describing the RCBC’s argument as unacceptable, Muhith said, “The argument is not justified at all. Because it has been already cleared that a fake transfer message had caused the theft. Federal Reserve first denied (the message), but then they transferred the money without getting any green signal from here."
He said it was a major disappointment. “I'm not saying anything more as I need to know about the whole thing once they (delegation in Manila) return.”
The finance minister said the RCBC’s statement has created an ‘ethical crisis.’ “The decision is not at all proper from an ethical standpoint.”
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