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FT online

Published:
2019-03-13 11:31:52 BdST

BD assigns lawyer to deal with case in Manila


Bangladesh has assigned a lawyer to look into all legal issues including a defamation suit filed by the Manila-based Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) recently against the country's central bank.

"We've been informed about the suit, but our lawyer will look into the matter," one of the members of the Bangladesh delegation told the FE over Viber from Manila, preferring anonymity.

A five-member Bangladesh delegation is now staying in Manila, the capital of Philippines, to gear up the legal process through discussion with the authorities concerned for recovering the stolen fund.

Bangladesh earlier hired a law firm in Manila to facilitate the ongoing legal process in the country, a senior official of the Bangladesh Bank (BB) told the FE in Dhaka on Tuesday.

The Manila-based RCBC has filed a defamation suit against the central bank of Bangladesh for "baseless allegation" in connection with the $81-million cyber heist three years ago.

The case filed with the Regional Trial Court in Makati City of Manila on March 6 was served to former BB deputy governor Abu Hena Mohd Razee Hasan and other officials, who were in Manila this week, according to media reports.

The RCBC's latest move came after filing a case with the US court of Southern District of New York on February 01 by the central bank of Bangladesh to recover its stolen money.

The case was filed on the day against seven institutions, including RCBC, 15 individuals and 25 unknown persons to recover more than $66 million stolen money from the Philippines.

The case has been filed with the US court in line with the government's high-level decisions, the BFIU chief told reporters earlier.

The delegation members include Abu Hena Mohd Razee Hassan, head of Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit (BFIU), and senior lawyer Ajmalul Hossain QC, who has been appointed by the central bank to assist the country in the legal process.

The delegation is scheduled to return home on Wednesday night from Manila.

When contacted with BB spokesperson Md. Serajul Islam, he said representatives of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (NY Fed) and the US law firm are also now in Manila as per the international legal practices.

"We've act in line with the internal legal practices," Mr. Islam, also executive director of the central bank, added.

BB, NY Fed and SWIFT earlier reiterated their commitments to work together to recover the stolen money from the Philippines.

As part of the commitments, BB and NY Fed signed a resolution and assistance agreement on February 01 to support each other until the recovery of the entire stolen money.

Unknown hackers tried to steal nearly $1.0 billion from the BB account with NY Fed in February 2016, and succeeded in digitally sending $81 million to four accounts of RCBC in Manila in one of the biggest such cyber heists.

The hackers implemented the cyber fraud planning on the night of February 04 by sending a total of 35 transfer orders to the US Federal Reserve Bank, where BB maintains its foreign-exchange account.

Of the 35 transfer orders placed, 30 were blocked. Four transfer orders to the Philippines bank for a total of $81 million went through.

The rest $20 million, transferred to a Sri Lankan non-governmental organisation, was reversed, as the hackers misspelled the name of the entity. Nearly $20 million of the total siphoned off amount of $101 million was recovered from Sri Lanka.

The lion's share of the money landed in the Philippines. Later, some $15 million more was recovered from the Southeast Asian country.

 

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