BB’s Lawyer Ajmalul Hossain QC addressing at a press conference in Dhaka on February 03, 2019. Photo: BB

Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN)– Bangladesh expects that the legal battle for recovering the money, stolen from its reserve account with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (NY Fed) in the US, might be completed within three years.

“Around three years may be needed to complete the trial of the case,” said senior lawyer Ajmalul Hossain QC, who has been appointed by BB to assist the country in the lawsuit, at a press conference, held at the central bank headquarters in Dhaka on Sunday,

The case was filed with the US court of Southern District of New York on Friday against seven institutions, including the Manila-based Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC), 15 individuals and 25 unknown persons.

A number of steps have been taken as preparations before filling the lawsuit by the BB’s Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit (BFIU), he said while explaining the reasons behind the delay in filling the case.

Describing bad intentions of RCBC, the senior lawyer said the Manila-based bank kept their CCTV at the branch concerned from February 05 to February 09, 2016.

Besides, RCBC also suspended the operation of SWIFT system on February 07 to avoid payment message from BB, Mr. Hossain added.

Bangladesh has so far spent around BDT 30 million for brining the stolen money from the Philippines and for filling the case with the US court, said Abu Hena Mohd Razee Hassan, head of BFIU, while replying to a query.

He also said the case has been filled with the US court in line with the government’s high-level decisions.

BB, NY Fed and SWIFT earlier reiterated their commitments to work together to recover more than $66 million 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.

SWIFT is also providing supports in this connection, the lawyer added.

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-government 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 could be recovered from the country.