CID team spends busy day at BB, gleans info on cyber heist
17 March 2016, Nirapad News: The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of police have spent a busy day at Bangladesh Bank investigating the case over February’s $81 million cyber heist. On Wednesday, CID officials visited several departments and the server room, gathered information and examined documents during the daylong inspection before leaving sometime after 5pm.
Central bank Joint Director Jubair Bin Huda started the case with Motijheel police on Tuesday afternoon, several hours after governor Atiur Rahman resigned facing intense pressure. The case, initiated under the Money Laundering Prevention Act and the ICT Act, was referred to the CID right after it was recorded. The CID chief, Additional Inspector General Sheikh Himayet Hossain, on Wednesday evening said their Money Laundering Unit and Economic Crime Squad, led by Additional DIG Shah Alam, were jointly conducting the investigation. “We’ve only started the probe. There’s nothing to say right now,” he told a news agency about their progress. Another official of the agency, asking not to be named, said Alam led a CID team in the morning for the inspection at the Bangladesh Bank.
They spoke with the officers of the bank’s different departments related to the foreign currency reserve account in the US bank from where hackers had stolen the money. But the CID official said, “The job has become tougher as the CID have been put on the case nearly 40 days after the incident.” Hackers stole $101 million from the account with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in early February. Of the money, $81 million were wire-transferred to bank accounts in the Philippines and $20 million to Sri Lanka. The amount despatched to Sri Lanka has been recovered, Bangladesh Bank officials said, but the remaining $81 million are yet to be retrieved. The matter became public when Phillipine Daily Inquirer newspaper first reported the theft at the end of February. Special Superintendent of Police Mirza Abdullahel Baki, a member of the investigation team, told the news agency: “We’ve spent the whole day collecting information at Bangladesh Bank. This is a highly technical matter.” “Our own specialists are working on the case. But we’ll take assistance from foreign specialists, if necessary,” he said, adding that no suspects have been detained. The Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) had started a shadow investigation after the cyber heist became known. The elite police unit’s officers had visited the central bank and spoken to the officials there. They also held several meetings with top Bangladesh Bank officials. RAB spokesperson Mufti Mahmud Khan told the news agency:
“CID have been charged with the investigation. We are ready to assist them, if they call for it.” The central bank’s spokesperson Subhankar Saha told reporters, “They (CID investigators) have spoken to the officials of different departments. “The probe will find out if any bank officials were involved in the stealing of the reserves or if there was any weakness. It will also be checked whether this scam took place due to the absence of any high-powered anti-virus protection.” The finance ministry on Tuesday formed a three-strong committee headed by former governor Mohammed Farashuddin to investigate the theft. Saha said that panel was also talking to top bank officials. Executive Director Saha claimed ‘everything was normal at the bank’, even after the resignation of under-fire governor Atiur Rahman and sacking of his two deputies.
The government has appointed former finance secretary and Sonali Bank chairman Fazle Kabir as the new governor for four years. He is currently in the US and will return home several days later, officials said. Despite Saha’s claim, the atmosphere at the central bank’s Motijheel headquarters on Wednesday was found to be discomforting as many officials spoke of their nervousness to the news agency. A general manager said, “I’ve never faced such situation in my 33-year long career. Suddenly everything is so confusing.” “An accident (the theft) has taken place. We have no clue who is responsible and how it was done. I’m passing the most uncomfortable situation in my career.” “I’ve never seen such crisis in the central bank,” said a deputy general manager-level official. Another young official, an assistant director, said, “This is a terrible situation. Everyone’s talking behind everyone everywhere. No-one can trust anyone.”