Bangladesh Bank Governor Atiur Rahman submitted his resignation letter to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina this morning over the heist of US$101 million from the central bank account with the New York Federal Reserve Bank by hackers last month.
Addressing a press conference at his Gulshan residence this afternoon, Atiur said he opted to quit out of moral responsibility over the heist.
“I did not want my institution, the Bangladesh Bank, and my country facing any controversy over the issue,” he told reporters.
The BB governor has been criticised particularly for keeping the government in the dark for more than a month about the stealing that made headlines across the world.
“It took us some time to disclose the matter. But, what we have done was according to protocol,” he said, and added that the government was knocked after the bank had a better understanding and control over the situation.
Besides the Finance Minister AMA Muhith, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also expressed disappointment and concern over the Bangladesh Bank heist.
“I am ready to resign from my post for the sake of the country,” Rahman told journalists earlier this morning. The announcement came around an hour before the Finance Minister AMA Muhith was scheduled to hold a press conference on the issue.
Muhith's press conference, which was originally scheduled to begin at 11:00am today, was deferred to 2:30pm. But after the news of Rahman's resignation was disclosed, officials concerned told the media that the press conference had been cancelled.
The hacking took place on the night of February 4, a Thursday, using information stolen through the malware, which sent a total of 35 transfer orders to the NY Federal Reserve Bank where the BB has an account. The next two days – Friday and Saturday – were weekend in Bangladesh.
The powerful malware not only hacked into the system, but also destroyed the system on the computers itself, which are used by the officials to make transfer orders. Data on the printers were also destroyed by the malware.
Yesterday, the BB governor faced criticism from government high-ups and a number of ruling party leaders for “incompetent handling” of the cyber theft.
Finance Minister AMA Muhith was furious, and hinted that the top management of the BB may see changes as the fallout of the theft.
“We are going to make a major decision,” he told reporters yesterday at the secretariat when asked whether the government would take any action against the BB.
Muhith publicly vented his anger on Sunday on the BB for keeping him in the dark for more than a month about the theft, and said he would take action against the BB. “I am very unhappy about the handling of the matter by Bangladesh Bank... very incompetent,” he said.
READ more: Hackers bugged BB system in Jan
Questions were raised over Atiur's decision to travel to New Delhi to attend an event of the International Monetary Fund at a time when mysteries around the cyber theft were unfolding. The BB governor went to the Indian capital on March 10 to attend a three-day meeting of the IMF.
A number of ministers and Awami League leaders also slammed the BB governor, saying he cannot shirk his responsibility.
In a press release yesterday, the Transparency International Bangladesh expressed concern that the BB did not immediately inform its board and the government about the cyber theft.
3-member probe body to be formed
Meanwhile, the finance minister said today that government will form a three-member high-powered committee to investigate the heist.
Farash Uddin, a former governor of the central bank, will lead the probe body, he added.