Primary probe finds no link of BB officials
Primary investigations found no involvement of Bangladesh Bank officials in stealing $101 million from a BB foreign currency account with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
Investigators, however, are yet to rule out the possibility of involvement of any “internal forces”.
“We are still in the middle of the investigations and are looking at both internal and external engagements. So, it is hard to rule out anything,” said Rakesh Asthana, a cyber security expert working for the BB. He is a former director of the World Bank's IT department.
Asthana, who is leading the BB probe, talked to reporters after a meeting with the chief executives and IT heads of all commercial banks at the office of the central bank.
BB Governor Atiur Rahman and other senior officials also spoke.
Signs so far show that the hacking was done from abroad, Asthana said.
On how the payment advice from the BB went to the US bank, Abu Hena Mohammad Razi Hassan, a deputy governor of the BB, said, “It is under investigation.”
The central bank of Bangladesh has around $28 billion in foreign currency reserves. Nearly one-third of the reserves are in the form of liquid assets with different foreign banks including the central banks of the US and the UK. The rest are invested in bonds and gold.
Of the liquid reserves, hackers had allegedly stolen $101 million and got the amounts transferred to the Philippines and Sri Lanka. Of the amounts, $20 million has been retrieved and the remaining $81 million is in the Philippines, according to the BB.
“We are looking into the issue with due diligence,” said Razi Hassan of the BB.
On the meeting with the chief executives of banks, Shubhankar Saha, executive director and spokesman of the BB, said they have cautioned banks against cyber threats.
“As these banks transact in foreign currency and have accounts with the US banks, we have asked them to strengthen their cyber security,” he said.