Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN)– Law minister Anisul Huq has said the Philippines authorities assured Bangladesh of taking appropriate steps to return the heist money, as he returned home overnight from Manila.
“Philippines government has expressed its willingness to return the heist money . . . they earlier proved their intention in their works and deeds so far,” he told newsmen at a briefing at his office in the capital Dhaka on Thursday.
Mr. Huq said during his four-day Manila tour he had “fruitful” talks with the Philippines finance minister and the Senate Committee president when Bangladesh delegation particularly requested the Philippines senate committee president to arrange another hearing for returning the heist money, deposited in banks in the East Asian country.
The minister said the first senate committee hearing could not reach a decisive decision as the Philippines was busy with elections at that time.
“Immediately, he (senate president) accepted the request and directed his office to give a date for hearing,” he noted.
Mr. Huq said during the meeting the senate president said “the Philippines will provide all kinds of assistance to Bangladesh to return the heist money” as Manila’s friendship with Bangladesh “is very strong”.
The minister expressed the hope that Bangladesh would get back the entire stolen money while a case was now also pending with a Philippines court on the matter which was expected to be disposed of soon.
The law minister’s briefing came two days after Philippines commercial Rizal Bank (RCBC) said it had “no reason to compensate Bangladesh Bank”, a stance indicating its unwillingness to repatriate the heist amount deposited with it.
A RCBC lawyer on Tuesday said that Bangladesh Bank was “negligent” in regard to the heist as the initial security breach was “its (BBs) own fault”, according to an international media.
Finance Minister AMA Muhith on Wednesday called “not ethical” the RCBC stance against returning the stolen money, expecting the Philippines government and central bank there to take steps to repatriate the amount.
Mr. Muhith also said after the RCBC announcement, Bangladesh would now wait for the Philippines government and central bank’s steps in this regard.
Hackers had stolen a total $101 million from Bangladesh’s account at the New York Fed in February.
The cyber fraud took place through sending a total of 35 transfer orders into the US Federal Reserve, where BB maintains a foreign-exchange account.
Of the 35 transfer orders placed, 30 were blocked. Four transfers to the Philippines bank for a total of $81 million went through. The rest $20 million, transferred to a Sri Lankan non-government organization, was reversed.
The total amount recovered so far stands at $35.25 million after receiving around $15.25 million from the Philippines in the middle of November.
Nearly $20 million of the total amount of $101 million siphoned off was recovered from Sri Lanka shortly after the trans-national cyber-heist.