Bangladesh is yet to file any case against the Philippines’ Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC), which illegally transferred the fund stolen from Bangladesh Bank account in the US though two years have elapsed since the cyber heist.
Of the US$ 101 million stolen, US$14.5 million was recovered from Sri Lanka months after the heist and $14.5 million from the Philippines last year. But the recovery of the remaining $66.4 million still remains uncertain.
Some economists and bankers said Bangladesh can recover the remaining money by filing a criminal case with the Philippines courts.
US Federal Reserve Bank of New York, where Bangladesh kept the fund, assured that it would extend cooperation in this regard.
“Rizal Bank [RCBC] transferred the fund to foreign accounts bypassing the request from Bangladesh Bank and New York Fed.
That’s a clear criminal offence.It’s surprising that Bangladesh is yet to take legal action against the offenders,” Khondkar Ibrahim Khaled, a former deputy governor of Bangladesh Bank, told the daily sun on Monday.
He suggests that the finance ministry can file a criminal case against the Philippines bank through diplomatic channel.
US $101 million was stolen on February 4, 2016 from Bangladesh Bank’s account with the Federal Reserve Bank, but the cyber heist came to light in March after a Manila-based newspaper ran a report on it.
The incident prompted the then BB governor, Atiur Rahman, to quit.
Bangladesh Bank and the Criminal Investigation Department of Bangladesh Police are jointly working to recover the remaining money. A joint investigation team left Dhaka for Singapore and the Philippines, according to a source.
An inquiry committee headed by former central bank governor Mohammed Farashuddin was formed and it submitted the report on its findings. The government is, however, yet to publish the report.
The probe body submitted its preliminary report to the finance minister in April 2016 and the final report on May 30.
In August, Finance Minister AMA Muhith said the investigation report on the heist was not disclosed as a case was pending with a Philippines court.
In October last, the BB authorities informed that they would take legal step against the Philippines bank after the disposal of cases with the Philippines court to recover the remaining $ 66.4 million transferred to different foreign accounts.
The statement mentioned that the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Bangladesh Bank and global financial messaging service provider, SWIFT, have vowed to work together and representatives from the three organisations met in New York in October last.
The BB authorities described the offence as an inter-continental ‘transnational organised crime’.
The Philippines government took action against seven officials of RCBC, including its chief executive officer, according to the BB statement.
“In this digital age, there’s nothing to hide. However, after one and half years, an international court has found that a Filipino banker was behind the heist,” a former BB governor told the daily sun requesting anonymity.
He mentioned that the probe report ‘found’ involvement of mid-level and junior officers of the bank.