January 23, 2021, 5:43 pm

FT Online

2019-12-03 21:45:38 BdST

BB Heist: Dhaka wants fined money back; also identities of perpetrators

Bangladesh wants to get US$ 20 million from the Philippines, imposed on Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) as fine in the wake of the cyber heist at Bangladesh Bank apart from seeking identities of the perpetrators involved in the stealing.

Bangladesh raised the issues at the second Foreign Office Consultation between the two countries held in the city on Tuesday, four years after it happened.

“We’re making our claim saying …you (Philippines) could at least give us that fined money... Ultimately, the fine was imposed in connection with the same issue (BB heist),” Secretary (Asia and Pacific) Masud Bin Momen told reporters at State guesthouse Meghna after the meeting.

Dr Momen who led the Bangladesh delegation at the meeting, said they sought cooperation from the Philippines in a number of areas, including information, identities of some of the perpetrators and some financial information.

If these two issues are resolved, he said, it will be easier for Bangladesh to give a chargesheet in the case filed here. “We had a fruitful discussion (on that front).”

Dr Momen said the Philippines assured them of providing the identities and extending cooperation in other requested areas.

Earlier, Philippines’ banking regulators imposed the single biggest monetary penalty in their country’s history, slapping RCBC with a US$21.2-million fine in the wake of the cyberheist at the Bangladesh Bank.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), the central bank of the Republic of the Philippines, said the penalty represents “the largest amount ever approved as part of its supervisory enforcement actions on a BSP-supervised financial institution.”

Dr Momen who led the Bangladesh delegation at the meeting said investigation is going on at various layers as some money had been laundered.

On February 4, 2016, hackers broke into BB's systems and generated 70 fake payment orders for the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to draw about $1.94 billion.

Regarding the fined money, the Philippines said the fine was imposed as they violated the banking law and they claimed that there has been no direct link between the imposed fine and stolen money from Bangladesh.

“But we’re continuing to place our demand,” Dr Momen said adding that they are moving ahead step by step as there is legal complexity.

Terming cyber heist or cybercrime an emerging phenomenon, he said Bangladesh wants to resolve the BB heist issue “amicably” through discussion to set an example for other countries in the world as any country might become a victim of such cybercrime.

“Today, Bangladesh is a victim of it. It might happen to other countries. There’re vulnerabilities for all. We’re stressing more cooperation between Bangladesh and the Philippines to find a solution to it,” he said.

Asked about any timeframe to resolve these issues, Dr Momen said there is no particular timeframe as they have no hand in legal process but stronger cooperation between the two countries might lead to a solution.

“I told (them – Philippines) we can set an example if we can resolve it amicably to the best of our ability. Then it’ll be a model for other countries,” he said adding that it cannot be said there will be a solution tomorrow or day after tomorrow.

The Philippines side also acknowledged it that it will have to be solved amicably, Dr Momen said.

Responding to a question, he said the both sides exchanged a number of MoUs and one of the MoUs was signed with Chittagong Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI).  

The MoUs placed at the meeting were in the areas of health, nursing, agriculture sector and maritime cooperation which the both sides think will help further strengthen the relations.

Dr Momen said they discussed all the components of bilateral relations between the two countries, including migration, climate change and disaster risk reduction where the two countries share experiences.

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