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Thursday, February 22, 2018 11:05:09 PM
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Will the BB's heist fund be retrieved?

Ministry convenes high-level meet on Sunday

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23rd-Feb-2018       
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Kazi Zahidul Hasan :
The Ministry of Finance will convene a high-level meeting on Bangladesh Bank's reserve heist amid growing uncertainty over retrieving major chunk of US$ 81 million stolen fund from the Philippines.
The meeting would be held at the conference room of the ministry on Sunday with Finance Minister AMA Muhith in the chair. High officials of the ministry, Bangladesh Bank and representatives of concerned government agencies will also attend the meeting.
Bangladesh Bank (BB) has so far been able to get back only about $15 million out of the total stolen fund despite repeated assurance from the Philippine government and an international probe involving the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Unidentified hackers stole $81 million from Bangladesh Bank's account at the New York Fed on February 4, 2016, using fraudulent orders on the SWIFT payments system. The money was sent to accounts at Manila-based Rizal Commercial Banking Corp and then disappeared into the casino industry in the Philippines.
 "The meeting was convened amid looming uncertainty over recovering US$66 million more from the Philippines as a result of RCBC's denial to compensate BB for funneling the fund through it," a Finance Ministry official told The New Nation yesterday on condition of anonymity.
He said the process to retrieve the heists fund from Philippines has also plunged into the country's lengthy legal systems causing concern to the government. "There has been no success yet in bringing back the remaining US$66 million making the government wary of the reserve recovery efforts by a taskforce.   "The meeting will review the progress of the heist fund recovery from Philippines and discuss the next course of actions to speed up the fund recovery process. The meeting is expected to produce policy decisions, including filing a lawsuit against the RCBC, in this regard," said the official adding that the scope of filing a case against the Manila-based bank would remain valid until February 2019".
He, however, said that bilateral negotiation between Bangladesh and Philippines is still on to settle the issue mutually.
The government on April 2016 formed a high-powered taskforce to speed up the recovery of the reserve fund. But it is yet to show any success in this regard.
A BB high official told The New Nation yesterday that the Philippines authorities initially assured of providing full support to Bangladesh to get back the heist fund. Several Bangladeshi ministers, central bank governor and BB high officials visited Manila amid high hopes from Manila. But we're not getting their warm response right now making the process complex and lengthy. 
 "We were assured of getting back the fund. But they're now lingering on it. That is why we're thinking about legal action against RCBC, which was fined a record one billion pesos ($20 million) by the country's central bank in 2016 for its failure to prevent the movement of the stolen BB fund through it," he said.



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