‘Inside job and a cover-up’: Philippine bank points finger at Bangladeshis over US$81 million heist

Money was shifted from Bangladesh’s central bank to a Manila branch of RCBC then quickly withdrawn and laundered through casinos

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 12 December, 2017, 10:55pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 12 December, 2017, 10:55pm

A Philippine bank on Tuesday accused Bangladesh’s central bank of a “massive cover-up” over an US$81 million cyber-heist last year, as it rejected allegations it was mostly to blame.

Unidentified hackers shifted US$81 million in February last year from the Bangladesh central bank’s account with the US Federal Reserve in New York to a Manila branch of the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp (RCBC). The money was quickly withdrawn and laundered through Manila casinos.

With only a small amount of the stolen money recovered and frustration building in Dhaka, Bangladesh’s Finance Minister A. M. A Muhith said over the weekend he wanted to “wipe out” RCBC.

RCBC on Tuesday said Muhith’s remarks were “extremely irresponsible”.

If it was stolen by your own people, why ask us?

“Last year’s theft of US$81 million of Bangladesh’s Central Bank’s (BB) funds was an inside job and BB is engaging in a massive cover-up by maligning RCBC and refusing to divulge its findings,” the bank said in a statement on Tuesday. “BB should stop making RCBC its scapegoat.”

The Philippines last year imposed a record US$21 million fine on RCBC after a “special examination” of the bank and its role in the audacious heist. Philippine authorities have filed money laundering charges against the RCBC branch manager.

On Tuesday, RCBC said an “inside job” at Bangladesh Bank made the heist possible.

“If it was stolen by your own people, why ask us? We are actually a victim of BB’s negligence,” RCBC said.

Asked about the allegation of an inside job, Bangladesh Bank deputy governor Razee Hassan insisted RCBC was at fault for releasing the stolen money.

“[RCBC] did not do due diligence. Their central bank did not fine them without any reason,” he said.