Update March 14, 2016

Dhaka 2-57 am, 24-January, 2021

Muhith vows action against BB ‘audacity’

Sumel Sarker

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Info holdback on BB Fed account heist

14 March 2016, Nirapad News: Finance Minister AMA Muhith, irked by the information holdback, vowed action against Bangladesh Bank for the ‘audacity’ to keep him in the dark about $100 million foreign currency heist from its account with the New York branch of the US Federal Reserve Bank. “I am very unhappy about the handling of the matter by the Bangladesh Bank,” he said, terming the central bank management “very incompetent”.

The finance minister made the remarks over the trans-national racketeering with the country’s foreign-exchange reserves while he was briefing journalists at his secretariat office Sunday after a meeting with newly appointed Indian High Commissioner Harsh Vardhan Shringla.

The incident took place on February 4 but was not known until the 6th of February because of the holidays. “But, anyway, we learned about it more than a month ago and there is the audacity of Bangladesh Bank not to inform me to protect the secrecy,” Mr Muhith said. “I am certainly going to take action on the audacity of Bangladesh Bank,” the finance minister said, on a note of resentment over the central bank’s performance. Asked about the action or whether there may be any change in the existing system of the central bank’s leadership, the minister said he would make a statement in this regard after a meeting with the Prime Minister.

Asked whether the country is under any cyber-security threat, the finance minister agreed that there might be some flaws in the exiting cyber-protection systems as all including the Federal Reserve Bank of the United States denied any flaws in their systems. “We have to think about this.” When asked whether he is going to take assistance from the FBI or any other international agencies to investigate the hi-tech bank heist, the finance minister said he will discuss the issues with the Prime Minister. “Measures will be taken as per situation demands,” he added. According to sources, over US$ 100 million worth of foreign reserves of the Bangladesh Bank, deposited with the US central bank, was stolen by a racket of hackers of Chinese origin and transferred to Sri Lanka and the Philippines.

Bangladesh Bank sources said US$ 20 million of the stolen money has already been recovered from Sri Lanka. Hackers, according to experts, installed malicious software or malware into the Bangladesh Bank (BB) systems in January, which helped them gain knowledge of the central bank’s working methods before stealing $101 million. The forensic investigation by the BB, launched soon after the Feb 4 digital heist, detected the presence of the malware. Foreign expertise has also been hired for the hunt against the cybercriminals and for recovering the money. Preliminary probe indications have it that certain BB-insiders might have been hand in glove with the hackers or there had been spying in disguise to get into the BB code of money transfer. mzrbd@yahoo.com

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