FBI smells inside job in $81-M cyber heist | Global News

FBI smells inside job in $81-M cyber heist

04:12 AM May 12, 2016

WASHINGTON—The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) suspects the computer hacking theft of $81 million from Bangladesh’s central bank was in part an inside job, The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday.

Quoting sources familiar with the matter, the Journal said FBI agents investigating the case “have found evidence pointing to at least one bank employee acting as an accomplice.”

But it added that “a handful of others” may have also aided the hackers in breaking into the computers of Bangladesh Bank.


Investigators probing the cyber theft  have discovered evidence of unidentified hacking groups from North Korea, Pakistan and one other place inside the bank’s network, Bloomberg reported, citing two people briefed on the progress of the bank’s investigation.



Digital fingerprints

FireEye Inc., the company hired by the bank to conduct the forensics investigation identified digital fingerprints of the hacking groups, the two people told Bloomberg.

It was the third group, whose identity and country of origin is unknown, that pulled off the heist, Bloomberg reported.

FireEye has not found enough data to determine whether the third group, described by the company as the actual culprit, was a criminal network or the agent of another nation, Bloomberg reported.

The spectacular cyber theft has embarrassed the government in Dhaka, triggered outrage in the impoverished country and raised alarm over the security of the global infrastructure linking central banks.


Unidentified hackers infiltrated the computers at the Bangladesh Bank in early February and tried to transfer $951 million from its settlement account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Transferred to PH accounts

The hackers fabricated official electronic transfer orders to move the money from Bangladesh Bank’s account with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York  and send it to accounts in the Philippines, where it then disappeared, in part through the Philippine casino industry.

But the New York branch of the US central bank blocked most of the bogus transfer orders it received, preventing the theft from skyrocketing to $1 billion. But $81 million was sent to four accounts at a branch of the Philippines’ Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC). It was then moved through a remittance firm and later to casinos and gambling agents. Most of that money is missing.

Turn over complete

Casino junket operator Kim Wong recently turned over to the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) the fourth and final tranche of funds amounting to P250 million which was part of the $81-million stolen from  the central bank of Bangladesh.

Wong has so far turned over to AMLC for safekeeping—and eventual return to Bangladesh—$4.6 million as the first tranche, P38 million as the second tranche, P200 million as the third tranche and the final trance of P250 million.

The involvement of the New York fed has brought the FBI into the case, but the Fed is not being viewed as blameworthy.

Separately, the global financial transfers network SWIFT on Monday rejected reported accusations by Bangladesh police and bank officials that it was to blame for low security protections.

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“SWIFT was not responsible for any of the issues cited by the officials, or party to the related decisions,” it said in a statement. Reports from the wires

TAGS: Bangladesh, business, Features, Federal Bureau of Investigation, money laundering

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