Daily Management Review

Bangladesh Central Bank Governor Quits even as Man in Manila Identified as Getting $30 million Cash From Cyber Heist


Bangladesh Central Bank Governor Quits even as Man in Manila Identified as Getting $30 million Cash From Cyber Heist
As details emerged in the Philippines that $30 million of the money was delivered in cash to a casino junket operator in Manila, Bangladesh's central bank governor resigned on Tuesday over the theft of $81 million from the bank's U.S. account.
Officials told a Philippines Senate hearing into the scandal that two casinos got the rest of the money that hackers stole from the Bangladesh Bank's account at the New York Federal Reserve. This is one of the largest cyber heists in history.
A haul that would have been made up of at least 780,000 banknotes was sent in a a mix of dollars and Philippine pesos to the ethnic Chinese junket operator over several days by a foreign exchange broker, they said.
The target of the heist by the unknown hackers was the Fed account of Bangladesh Bank which it uses for international settlements. The hackers had breached the computer systems of the bank last month to conduct to steal $951 million from the Fed account. They managed to transfer $81 million to entities in the Philippines.
Recovering the money would be difficult and could take months and there is little hope of apprehending the perpetrators, said Bangladesh Bank officials.
In order to set an example in a country where there is little precedence of accountability and to uphold the image of the institution he had resigned, central bank governor Atiur Rahman said in Dhaka.
Days after blaming it for keeping the government in the dark about the theft, the government also fired two deputy governors of the bank, Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith said.
Bangladesh, a South Asian nation of 160 million could be delt a blow by the exit of Rahman. He was seen as one of the driving forces helping Dhaka towards the country’s aspiration to reach middle-income status.
Rehman sought to ensure farmers and women entrepreneurs had better access to banking services and credit as under him, a former development economics professor, the country's foreign exchange reserves have increased four-fold to $28 billion.
Rahman defended his record at the central bank, saying he was proud of his achievements there.
The bank had promptly informed intelligence agencies in Bangladesh and abroad and also brought in international experts to investigate, Rehman said while describing the heist as an "earthquake".
Investigation in the cyber heist is being aided by FireEye Inc's Mandiant forensics division. The Fed and other U.S. authorities, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Department of Justice have been contacted by the bank.
Anti-money laundering authorities in the Philippines where it is suspected that the stolen $81 million arrived in four tranches, is also helped in the investigations.
It was investigating deposits amounting to just that sum, which were made at one of its branches, the Philippines' Rizal Commercial Banking Corp (RCBC) said last week.
The transfers into RCBC were subsequently consolidated into one account and some of the money was converted to pesos, Teofisto Guingona, head of the Philippines Senate's anti-corruption committee, told Reuters.
RCBC's anti-money laundering head, Laurinda Rogero, told the Senate hearing that CCTV cameras at the branch were not functioning when the money was withdrawn.
Her firm was instructed by the bank branch to transfer the funds to a man named Weikang Xu and two casinos, the president of a foreign exchange broker called Philrem Service Corp, Salud Bautista, told the Senate.
She said that $30 million went to Xu in cash. Guingona has said Xu was ethnic Chinese and a foreigner, but he was not sure if he was a Chinese national.
Solaire, a casino resort owned and operated by Bloomberry Resorts Corp was the destination of a tranche of $29 million. Enrique Razon, the Philippines' fifth-richest man in 2015 according to Forbes controls Bloomberry.

The $29 million was transferred into a casino account under Xu's name in exchange for 'dead chips' that can only be cashed in from winnings, Silverio Benny Tan, corporate secretary of Bloomberry Resorts, told the hearing.
Eastern Hawaii Leisure Co., a gaming firm in northern Philippines was the recipient of a further $21 million, Bautista said.
"Our money trail ended up at the casinos," Julia Bacay Abad, executive director of the Anti-Money Laundering Council, told the open hearing.