Experts doubt the efficacy
Bangladesh Bank (BB) has filed a fresh civil case against 17 Philippines entities, including the Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) to recover the $81 million stolen in a 2016 reserve heist.
BB authorities recently filed the new case after Southern District Court of New York in March had dismissed the previous case and gave the order to run the case with the state court, according to the central bank source.
Talking to Dhaka Tribune, Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit (BFIU) head Abu Hena Mohd Razee Hassan said: “Recently our lawyer filed the new case against 17 Philippines entities.”
“In March, we had instructed our lawyer in New York to file a fresh case with the state court. But the court was then taking only very important cases due to the corona-related shutdown in the city,” he added.
"Before the new case, we had filed a case against Manila-based Rizal Commercial Banking Corp (RCBC) and some individuals on charges of theft, fraud, dollar conversion, cyber hacking and conspiracy," said the BFIU head.
"But the US court did not agree with us on a charge of conspiracy. As a result, the court dismissed conspiracy charges," he added.
Abu Hena Mohd Razee Hassan said, “We hope we will win the new case.”
The BFIU that deals with the country’s high-profile anti-money laundering issue is the sole authorized entity of the government to deal with the reserve heist and cases involving the cyber heist.
As per CNN report on Monday, Bloomberry Resorts Corporation, which owns Solaire Resort and Casino in Manila, confirmed about the new case to the Philippine Stock Exchange.
The case has been filed against the entities including Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation and Bloomberry Resorts and Hotels Inc, a subsidiary of Bloomberry Resorts Corporation.
Bloomberry Resorts Corporation is the owning company of Solaire Resort and Casino in Manila, one of the entities through which the funds were transferred.
The charges against the companies include conversion, theft, or misappropriation and aiding and abetting such acts, conspiracy to commit fraud, trespass against chattels, and their ‘unjust enrichment’, CNN said citing Bloomberry’s disclosure.
Would BB to get any benefit from the case
Bangladesh Bank would not get any benefit if there was not enough evidence and documents in favour of the case, said Salahuddin Ahmed, former governor of Bangladesh Bank. If there were no proper documents with merits, filing and moving the case would be mere eyewash, he added.
Salahuddin Ahmed said the BB should negotiate with the central bank of Philippine to recover the money because the legal matter involves huge time to settle.
After the reserve heist in 2016, the government had formed an investigation committee, headed by BB former governor Mohammed Farashuddin.
The committee submitted the investigation report but the government has yet to make the report public.
Talking to Dhaka Tribune, Mohammed Farashuddin said the government should have taken action on time.
Had the government taken prompt action on time, the money could have been recovered much earlier.
“We submitted our investigation report four years ago but the government could not take any action as per our findings and recommendations. Strict measures should have taken against the RCBC at that time,” Farashuddin said, venting frustration.
However, lawyer Manzill Murshid said the case against RCBC and other entities was very essential because Bangladesh tried to negotiate with them to recover the siphoned off money, but failed.
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 cybercrimes 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. Only $17 million of the total $81m stolen was recovered.