Finance Minister AMA Muhith yesterday said he would take action against Bangladesh Bank for keeping him in the dark for more than a month about the theft of $101 million from the BB account with the New York Federal Reserve Bank.
The central bank came to know about the incident two days after cyber thieves stole the money from the BB account on February 4 midnight when all the BB staff went on the two-day weekly holiday, according to BB officials.
But the matter came to light only last week, and Muhith learnt about it through the media.
“Bangladesh Bank had the audacity not to inform me… I am certainly going to take action against it,” Muhith told reporters at the secretariat.
The minister, however, didn't say what action he would take against the BB.
“I want to do something. I must have her [the prime minister] concurrence,” he said.
In the afternoon, Muhith held a meeting with the prime minister at the Gono Bhaban, and later returned to the secretariat.
Asked about the outcome of the meeting, the minister said he would give a statement today.
Venting his anger on the BB, Muhith said, “I am very unhappy about the handling of the matter by Bangladesh Bank... very incompetent.”
Muhith said cyber crime is nothing new, and all the countries have taken steps to counter it.
“We also have taken measures. But it
appears that our cyber protection programme has flaws. It appears. I can't say definitely.”
The New York Fed said there was no flaw in its system. “We have to look into the matter,” said Muhith.
Asked whether the government would seek assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the US, Muhith said he couldn't comment about it at this moment. “We will take steps depending on the situation.”
Meanwhile, a team of the Banking Division led by its Secretary Aslam Alam held a meeting with the four BB deputy governors yesterday.
Later, Aslam told reporters that the central bank didn't officially inform the finance ministry about the theft, one of the biggest cyber heists in the world.
The BB board had a meeting on February 23, and the audit committee held two meetings on February 28 and March 1, he mentioned.
“But the issue was not raised at those meetings,” said Aslam.
The Banking Division team wanted to know why the BB didn't tell the finance ministry about the issue.
The banking secretary said the BB deputy governors told him that the bank initially tried to get the full picture of the incident through investigations.
“I am not satisfied with their response. The BB should have informed us immediately.”
Speaking to the media, Deputy Governor Abu Hena Mohammad Razi Hassan said the BB would issue a statement in a day or two, explaining the reasons behind the delay in making the matter public.
The statement will also explain why the finance minister or the banking secretary was not told about the matter, he said.