Bangladesh’s Central Bank Probing Theft of Money by Hackers

Jesmin Papri
Dhaka
2016-03-08
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BD-bank-620-mar2016.jpg The Bangladesh Bank, the South Asian nation’s central bank (pictured), says it is investigating the theft of an undisclosed amount of money by hackers.
BenarNews

A top official with Bangladesh’s central bank said Tuesday it was trying to recover an undisclosed amount of money stolen by hackers.

“We are trying to investigate how it happened, who was involved with the hacking and how we can recollect that money,” A.F.M. Asaduzzaman, a general manager at the Bangladesh Bank, told BenarNews.

The central bank official declined to say how much money had been taken but news reports quoted an anonymous source as saying that computer hackers stole as much as $100 million from an account held by the Bangladesh Bank at the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank in New York.

Asaduzzaman said the theft was discovered four weeks ago.

“Our main target is to get back our losing money and identify all culprits, and we are advancing on that,” he added.

Earlier, the bank issued a statement saying that “a portion of the money hacked from the Bangladesh Bank account maintained in the U.S. bank has been recovered.”

On Tuesday, a spokesperson for the Federal Reserve Bank of New York told BenarNews that it had been assisting Bangladesh’s central bank since the alleged incident, which involved an international money transfer.

“To date, there is no evidence of any attempt to penetrate Federal Reserve systems in connection with the payments in question, and there is no evidence that any Fed systems were compromised,” the spokesperson said.

“The payment instructions in question were fully authenticated by the SWIFT messaging system in accordance with standard authentication protocols.  The Fed has been working with the central bank since the incident occurred, and will continue to provide assistance as appropriate,” the spokesperson told Benar in an email.

A briefing note sent by the Bangladeshi central bank to Bangladesh’s embassy in Washington mentioned that the bank had “uncovered some unauthorized payments in February 2016 that resulted in transactions being sent to [the] Federal Reserve Bank of New York via the SWIFT network and subsequently to banks in the Philippines.”

SWIFT is an acronym for the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, the network that banks use for making international wire transfers.

The briefing note, which was released to BenarNews by the embassy, also did not say how much money had been taken, but it said the Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit was “engaged with the Central Bank of [the] Philippines anti-money laundering authority to trace these funds.”

“Aided by a court order, the Central Bank of [the] Philippines has launched an investigation into the money laundering activities and frozen the concerned bank accounts,” the briefing note said.

Kamran Reza Chowdhury in Dhaka and Imran Vittachi in Washington contributed to this report.

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