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BB reserve heist: Lawsuit to be filed with NY court on Thursday

  • Published at 06:32 pm January 30th, 2019
web- Bangladesh Bank Governor Fazle Kabir unveiling fiscal’s monetary policy on January 30, 2019  <strong>Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune</strong>
Bangladesh Bank Governor Fazle Kabir unveiling fiscal’s monetary policy on January 30, 2019 Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

The central bank's governor made the announcement on Wednesday while unveiling the monetary policy for H2

Bangladesh Bank will file a lawsuit with a United States federal court in New York on Thursday over the $81 million stolen from its reserve account with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in February 2016.

Bangladesh Bank (BB) Governor Fazle Kabir made the announcement on Wednesday while unveiling the monetary policy for the second half of the current fiscal year (FY 2018-19). 

Speaking to journalists, the governor said that all preparations for the case against the Philippines-based Rizal Commercial Banking Corp (RCBC) and several "undisclosed individuals" have been completed, and a legal team from Bangladesh representing the central bank is already in New York.

According to a central bank source, a team of senior BB officials went to New York on Sunday to file the lawsuit with the US District Court for the Southern District of New York.

The team will return on February 1 after filing the case. Bangladesh Bank’s lawyer, Ajmalul Hossain QC (Queen’s Counsel) will meet the team to advise on further action. 

Speaking to the Dhaka Tribune, Abu Hena Mohammad Razee Hassan, head of Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit (BFIU), said: "The lawsuit will be filed tonight [Wednesday]. If not tonight, the case will be filed tomorrow [Thursday]."

On February 5, 2016, unidentified hackers stole $101 million from Bangladesh Bank's account with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York using fake orders on the SWIFT payment system. It was one of the biggest cyber crimes in the world.

The lawsuit comes three years after the cyber heist, which saw $81 million siphoned off to accounts at Rizal Commercial Banking Corp.

Probe report yet to be submitted

A Dhaka court set February 10 as the new deadline for submission of the probe report in the case filed over the cyber heist, after the investigating officer failed to submit it on January 9.

Till now, the deadline to submit the probe report to the court has been changed 28 times.

Ex-RCBC banker convicted

On January 10, a Philippine court found former RCBC branch manager Maia Deguito guilty on eight counts of money laundering—the first conviction in the heist case.

According to a Reuters report, the regional court sentenced Deguito to a jail term ranging from 32 to 56 years, with each count carrying four to seven years.

She was also ordered to pay a fine of about $109 million.

The stolen money had been sent to accounts at a branch of RCBC in Manila, then headed by Deguito, before it disappeared into the casino industry in the Philippines.

Manila urged to expedite case

A former treasurer of RCBC, along with five other employees of the bank branch from where the cash was withdrawn, is also facing money-laundering charges.

Earlier this month, Bangladesh urged the Philippines to expedite the cases against the remaining six RCBC officials after Deguito's conviction.

The Philippine central bank fined RCBC a record one billion pesos ($19.17 million) in August 2016 for its failure to prevent the stolen money from being moved through the bank.

Of the $101 million stolen during the heist, $20 million was recovered from a Sri Lankan bank, while the remaining $81 million, which landed at RCBC, is yet to be retrieved.