Manila, Philippines (BBN)-Cyber hackers have taken away $101 million money of Bangladesh Bank, the central bank of Bangladesh, from the foreign exchange reserve account with the Federal Reserve Bank in New York.
The Bangladesh Bank however has able to recover US$20 million out of the amount recently.
Suspected Chinese-origin cybercriminals hacked in the forex reserves in the BB’s account with the US Federal Reserve Bank in New York on February 05.
Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit (BFIU) is now working with its counterpart –the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) of the Philippines – actively to recover the rest of stolen fund, a central banker told the BBN.
Here is the timeline of the hacked-money given by Philippines-based daily inquirer.net.
May 15, 2015: Enrico Teodoro Vasquez, Alfred Santos Vergara, Michael Francisco Cruz and Jessie Christopher Lagrosas open US dollar bank accounts in RCBC with an initial deposit of $500 each. The accounts were untouched until February 4, 2016.
February 4, 2016: Some $81 million worth of funds from the account of Bangladesh Bank (BB), the central bank in Bangladesh, at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York was ordered transferred to four bank accounts in RCBC.
Some $30 million was transferred to Lagrosas, $19.99 million to Vergara, $25 million to Vasquez and $6 million to Cruz.
The amounts were credited to the accounts via straight-through process after the transactions passed internal validation criteria.
On the same day, Lagrosas withdrew $22.73 million and deposited it in the US dollar account of William Go DBA Centurytex Trading, which was opened only on that day.
February 5 to 13: Remittance company Philrem remitted the funds that were converted into pesos in various tranches to the bank accounts of Chinese national Weikang Xu, Eastern Hawaii Leisure Co. and Bloomberry Hotels Inc. (Solaire Resorts).
February 8 (Chinese New Year): Bangladesh Bank requested RCBC to stop payment and refund the funds, and if the funds had been transferred, to “freeze or put the funds on hold,” noting that the payment order was fraudulent.
However, this was a nonworking holiday in the Philippines.
February 9: RCBC received a Swift message from BB requesting to stop payment and freeze the accounts for proper investigation.
However, withdrawals from the accounts totaling $58.15 million had already been processed by the Jupiter Street branch of RCBC.
Some $15.2 million was deposited in the account of Philrem, $42.93 million in Go’s dollar account and another $20 million in Philrem.
Swift refers to the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication whose messaging system is commonly used by banks for international transactions.
February 16: Bangladesh Bank Governor Dr Atiur Rahman sought the assistance of his Philippine counterpart, Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. of Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, regarding the loss of $81 million from the BB account with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
The BB said the February 4 Swift payment instructions issued in favor of RCBC were “fraudulent.”
February 19: The Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) starts probe of bank accounts relating to Weikang Xu (believed to be a junket operator), Eastern Hawaii Leisure Co. and Solaire Resorts.
February 29: Inquirer business reporter Daxim Lucas reported that financial regulators were investigating a money-laundering scheme that brought to the country an estimated $100 million stolen by computer hackers from Bangladesh.
March 1: The Court of Appeals, acting on an urgent petition from the AMLC, ordered four banks—RCBC, East West Bank, Banco de Oro and Philippine National Bank—to freeze for six months the bank accounts of Michael Francisco Cruz, Jessie Christopher Lagrosas, Alfred Santos Vergara, Enrico Teodoro Vasquez, William So Go, Centurytex Trading, Kam Sin Wong (aka Kim Wong) and all related accounts.