Bangladesh Bank will have to wait for at least three more years to recover the amount stolen from its account three years ago, said its high official upon his return from filing a case with a US district court over the cyber heist.
The case was filed with the Southern District of New York on February 1 against: seven institutions including the Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation of the Philippines, 15 individuals and 25 unknown persons, said Ajmalul Hossain QC, the BB's attorney.
“There might be challenges to jurisdiction, but we can establish it,” he said at a press briefing yesterday to inform on the case filed.
He expects the legal case to be settled in three years' time. Quizzed about the RCBC's assertion that the case against it was “completely baseless”, Hossain said they unearthed information from the Filipino bank's internal documents that suggest otherwise.
All the closed-circuit televisions of the RCBC branch were switched off between the nights of February 4 and February 9, 2016.
Besides, the branch of the RCBC also disconnected its SWIFT network on February 7 although the bank stopped its banking operations from February 6 for two days on the occasion of public holidays and Chinese New Year.
The branch should have disconnected the SWIFT network on the eve of February 5, considering it was the last working day, he said.
But it disconnected the network on Sunday (February 7), when the Bangladeshi banks resumed operations after the weekend.
“We think that the branch had intentionally done it so that no message could send to it from the Bangladesh Bank's end regarding the reserve heist,” Hossain said.
The central bank has so far spent about Tk 3 crore to recover the stolen funds, said Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit Head Abu Hena Mohd Razee Hassan, who is overseeing the BB's efforts to retrieve the $66.46 million that is at large.
THREE YEARS ON: HEIST THAT RATTLED WORLD
Feb 4, 2016: A cybercriminal gang hacked BB's account with New York Fed and wired $81m to the Philippines' RCBC and $20m to Sri Lanka.
Mar 7, 2016: The issue came to the media. By the time BB got back $20m from Sri Lanka.
Mar 11, 2016: US-based FireEye was hired to carry out forensic investigation into the hacking.
Mar 15, 2016: BB formed a 3-member probe committee led by former governor Mohammed Farashuddin.
Mar 15, 2016: BB Governor Atiur Rahman and 2 deputy governors resigned. M Aslam Alam, secretary of the banking division, made OSD (officer on special duty).
Mar 15, 2016: BB filed a case with the Motijheel Police Station under the money laundering prevention act.
April 18, 2016: The CID of Police found at least 20 foreign nationals involved in the heist.
May 30, 2016: Farashuddin-led committee submitted its report to Finance Minister AMA Muhith and found SWIFT among others
Aug 21, 2016: Muhith again vowed to make the probe report public by Sep 24.
Nov 12, 2016: $15m recovered from Philippines.
Nov 28, 2016: A Bangladesh delegation visited Philippines and sought $50m compensation. Philippines denied.
Mar 29, 2017: An FBI official in Philippines said the heist was state-sponsored. He hinted at North Korea.
April 19, 2017: Kaspersky Lab said cyber gang Lazarus Group carried out the heist.
Dec 11, 2017: Muhith vowed to wipe out RCBC for its delinquency.
Jul 5, 2018: CID submitted its forensic report to a Philippines court.
Jan 9, 2019: A Dhaka court directed CID to submit its probe report by February 10.
Jan 10, 2019: A court in Philippines convicted RCBC Manager Maia Deguito of over $81m laundering and jailed her up to 56 years and fined $109m.
Feb 1, 2019: BB filed a case with a New York court against RCBC and others, including several top executives.