Executive Summary – A huge sum of $81 million was stolen by hackers from Bangladesh Bank by routing money to casinos in Philippines in a well-planned cyberattack. It is one of the largest cyber crimes in the world and has exposed weaknesses of financial systems. There are investigations going on in both the countries but there is not much hope in recovering the money.
The money seems to have disappeared after that. There is no trail. The Anti Money Laundering law is not applicable to casinos there. Some money was transferred to a businessman's account who claims it is not his money and his signatures have been forged for the transaction. Some of the money has been withdrawn. The transfer to the Sri Lankan NGO was held as the spelling of 'foundation' was spelled as 'fandation' and that amount could be saved. Deutsche Bank which was involved in this transaction sought clarification from the Bangladesh central bank, which led to the transaction being stopped. Since too many requests were being made, the Federal Reserve got suspicious and alerted the Bangladesh bank which helped curtailing the damage. But the theft seems to have come to light only after about a month when there were news reports in Philippines about hackers using official electronic bank messaging technology had diverted the money in early February.
The Philippine Anti-Money Laundering Council got involved after Bangladesh Bank Governor Atiur Rahman called Governor Amando Tetangco, his Philippine counterpart, and sought help on the stolen funds which means different law agencies are not working in close cooperation. The Bangladesh Bank Governor has resigned as this is a major security breach in the banking system. RCBC's shares in the Philippines stock market has seen a major drop. The Finance Ministry in Bangladesh had dismissed two deputy central bank governors and the Bank and Financial Institutions division secretary, who were all accused of having kept the theft a secret from their superiors. The hack has exposed the weakness of financial systems in Bangladesh. There are investigations on some people for fraud and money laundering in Philippines. But so much time has elapsed since the theft that it seems difficult to recover the money now.
$81 million was stolen by hackers from Bangladesh Bank by routing money to casinos in Philippines. It is one of the largest cyber crimes in the world and has exposed weaknesses of financial systems.
It is important for the financial systems of different countries to come together to defend against such attacks. The number of cyberattacks are on the rise in the last few years. The national security adviser in India has alerted the RBI to increase alert levels so that similar incidents can be avoided.