$81 million was stolen from the Bangladesh Bank reserve fund in 2016
Bangladesh Bank (BB) Governor Fazle Kabir has directed the officials concerned to file a case in a US court over the 2016 central bank reserve heist.
Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit (BFIU) consultant Deb Prasad Debnath confirmed the matter saying the governor issued the order to a number of Bangladesh Bank officials, at his office, on Tuesday.
Debnath told the correspondent: “A process is underway to file a case over the central bank reserve heist before the upcoming general election. The case proceedings will speed up the recovery of Bangladesh Bank funds that was stolen by hackers.”
Earlier on September 6, the US government charged and sanctioned a North Korean man for hacking into Bangladesh Bank’s account with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in February 2016—after the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) found evidence of his involvement.
Following this development, Bangladesh has become more optimistic about the possibility of recovering the stolen funds. Previously, a Filipino court launched a criminal case against Maia Deguito, a former branch manager of Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation, over the theft.
BFIU consultant Debnath told the correspondent: “On July 5, evidence submitted before a Filipino court established that the BB funds were stolen through hacking.
“The FBI investigation also supported this notion, and it found evidence that Park Jin Hyok, a North Korean man, was involved in the cyber heist of Bangladesh Bank. We are now one step closer to recovering the stolen money."
Debnath further said: “The Bangladesh Bank funds were stolen from the Federal Reserve Bank in New York, so the FBI got involved in the investigation.
“Park Jin, who was charged and sanctioned by the USA, worked as part of a team of hackers, also known as the Lazarus Group,” he said.
Quoting US officials, Bangladesh Bank sources said the North Korean hacker was also involved in the 2017 global WannaCry ransomware cyber attack and the 2014 cyber assault on Sony Corp.
One of Park's targets included US-based defense contractor Lockheed Martin Corp—but there was no indication that the organization was breached.
Lazarus Group operated using an organization named Chusan Expo, which is under US sanctions.
Of the $81 million stolen from the Bangladesh Bank reserve fund, Philrem Remittance Company possesses $17 million. A case, filed by Anti Money Laundering Council, is ongoing in a Filipino court over the $17 million.
Solaire Casino possesses $29 million of the stolen Bangladesh Bank funds, but the funds have been frozen by order of a Filipino court.
Bangladesh was able to recover $21 million from the possession of Kim Wong Casino. Another $14 million of the stolen money is yet to be traced.