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Stolen BB fund

Philippines returns $15.25m

By Special Correspondent
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Bangladesh Bank (BB) has retrieved $15.25 million, part of $81 million   stolen from its account with the New York Federal Reserve Bank on February 5 and ended up to the Philippines banking system.

The Philippines authorities on Friday handed over the fund to a BB team in Manila.

BB retrieved the fund after 10 months of the high-profile cyber heist in which cyber criminals attempted to launder nearly $1 billion from its reserve account with the New York Fed in February last year but succeeded to launder $101 million using SWIFT financial messaging system.

Some $20 million went to Sri Lanka, where it was blocked by authorities. The rest of $81 million entered into four fictitious accounts at the RCBC Bank in Manila.

 "The Philippines Anti-Money Laundering Council handed over the $15.25 million, portion of the $81 million heist fund, to a two member team of BB's anti-money laundering department in Manila on Friday," BB Deputy Governor Abu Hena Mohd Razee Hasan, told The New Nation on Saturday.

He said, Bangladesh ambassador in Philippines John Gomes accepted the fund in cash in presence of the BB team. Prior to handing over the fund to BB, the money was kept into the vaults of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), the central bank of Philippines.

The two-member BB team traveled to Manila on November 7 to complete the process with the BSP to get back the fund which had been surrendered by casino operator Kim Wong and forfeited by the Philippine government.

The members are Debaprosad Debnath, general manager and Abdur Rob, a Joint Director of the central bank's Financial Intelligence Unit,. 

 "The recovered $15.25 million will be deposited to BB account with the NY Fed in a day or two," said Razee Hasan.

Earlier, the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila ordered the release of $15 million to Bangladesh central bank declaring Bangladesh as the rightful owner of the heist money.

Following the order, Bangladesh's central bank filed an execution suit with a Philippine court to get the money bank in its account. The case was also settled and the order issued in favour of Bangladesh.

Razee Hasan, who is also the chief of Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit (BFUI) said, the recovered money consisting with the US dollar and Philippine peso will be deposited to BB account with the New York Fed in the next working day through two bank accounts with Standard Chartered Bank and Bangladesh embassy in Manila.
When asked, he said, "The Philippines authorities earlier engaged an all-out effort to trace the BB heist fund. They have already made tremendous progress in this regard. Process is on to retrieve the traced fund".

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