Bangladesh’s central bank will file a lawsuit in New York against a Philippine bank over the world’s largest cyber heist, the finance minister said Wednesday.
Unidentified hackers stole $81 million in February 2016 from the Bangladesh central bank’s account with the US Federal Reserve in New York.
The money was transferred to a Manila branch of the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp (RCBC), then quickly withdrawn and laundered through local casinos.
With only a small amount of the stolen money recovered and frustration growing in Dhaka, Bangladesh’s finance minister AMA Muhith said last year he wanted to “wipe out” RCBC.
On Wednesday he said Bangladesh Bank (BB) lawyers were discussing the case in New York and may file a joint lawsuit against the RCBC with the US Federal Reserve.
“It will be (filed) in New York. Fed may be a party,” he told reporters in Dhaka.
The deputy central bank governor Razee Hassan told AFP the case would be filed in April.
“They (RCBC) are the main accused,” he said.
“Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) and its various officials are involved in money heist from Bangladesh Bank’s reserve account and the bank is liable in this regard,” Hassan said in a written statement.
The Philippines in 2016 imposed a record $21 million fine on RCBC after investigating its role in the audacious cyber heist.
Philippine authorities have also filed money-laundering charges against the RCBC branch manager.
The bank has rejected the allegations and last year accused Bangladesh’s central bank of a “massive cover-up”.
The hackers bombarded the US Federal Reserve with dozens of transfer requests, attempting to steal a further $850 million.
But the bank’s security systems and typing errors in some requests prevented the full theft.
The hack took place on a Friday, when Bangladesh Bank is closed. The Federal Reserve Bank in New York is closed on Saturday and Sunday, slowing the response.
The US reserve bank, which manages the Bangladesh Bank reserve account, has denied its own systems were breached.