Bangladesh open to out-of-court settlement over $110m cyberheist

DHAKA • Bangladesh would consider an out-of-court settlement with a bank in the Philippines over US$81 million (S$110 million) stolen from its accounts in New York by hackers who wired the money to Manila, officials from Bangladesh's central bank said.

In one of the world's biggest cyberheists, the hackers stole the Bangladesh Bank money held at the New York Federal Reserve in February 2016 using fraudulent orders on the Swift payments system and sent it to Rizal Commercial Banking.

From there, it disappeared into the casino industry in the Philippines.

No one has been charged over the heist despite an international investigation and two years of finger-pointing among Bangladesh, the Philippines, the Federal Reserve and Swift. "There is an option before us to settle the issue out of court," a senior official at Bangladesh Bank said on Thursday.

The official, who declined to be identified, cited as a precedent an out-of-court settlement in February reached by Ecuador's Banco del Austro and Wells Fargo over a 2015 cyberheist.

On Thursday, Bangladesh's Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith met Philippine Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez on the sidelines of a four-day annual meeting of the Asian Development Bank in Manila to discuss the cyberheist, said two senior Bangladesh Bank officials close to the issue.

Bangladesh has yet to take legal action but had planned a suit to recover US$66 million.

Around US$15 million has been recovered from a Manila junket operator, which markets casinos to VIPs.

"We will try for all possible options to recover our stolen money," the officials added.

There was no immediate comment from Mr Dominguez or Rizal Commercial Banking.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 05, 2018, with the headline 'Bangladesh open to out-of-court settlement over $110m cyberheist'. Print Edition | Subscribe