Bangladesh urges Senate to reopen probe into $81M cyber bank heist
MANILA — Government officials from Bangladesh have requested the Philippine Senate to re-open the investigation on the $81-million cyber-heist as they sought the government’s assistance in recovering the rest of the stolen money that landed in the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC).
“We are here to request the government of Philippines to take initiatives for the return of the money that belong to Bangladesh and entered the Philippines through RCBC from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York,” Anisul Huq, Bangladesh minister of law, justice and parliamentary affairs, said on Tuesday.
Huq said the RCBC had admitted liability when it paid the P1-billion fine ($20 million) imposed by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.
“As they have admitted liability, we, through the good offices of the government of the Philippines, we are demanding that RCBC pay back the rest of the money, which amount to $66 million as we already received $15 million,” he said.
The RCBC on Tuesday afternoon issued a statement saying it had no liability since the Bangladesh Bank had been negligent and that the latter should make public the result of its investigation.
Huq said the RCBC statement was irrelevant. “It has got no connection with the demands we are making. It is a proven fact that RCBC had received the money in its account and they have admitted liability by paying the fine,” he said.
“The money landed here, therefore, it is quite clear that there is great amount of involvement from persons in the Philippines,” Huq said.
A high-level delegation from Bangladesh including Muhammad Abdur Razzaque, chair of the parliamentary standing committee on finance ministry; Mahbubey Alam, attorney general of Bangladesh; and Fazle Kabir, governor of the Bangladesh Bank, had met with Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III and officials from the Department of Finance and Department of Justice.
“In all these meetings, me and the delegation thank the government of the Philippines for its cooperation and assistance given to the government of Bangladesh for recovery of the money,” Huq said.
“Both governments agreed that we shall not harbor such criminals nor will we allow our countries to be used by such kind of criminals for such kind of offenses. We also agreed that this being a unique crime of cyberheist, we would cooperate to bring the criminals to justice and send the message to the entire world that we are quite capable of resolving this issue and bringing back the confidence that this crisis had caused to erode,” he added.
Huq said Pimentel gave assurance that he would initiate a hearing on the cyberheist.
The Bangladesh delegation also includes Md Eunusur Rahman, secretary of bank and financial institutions division of the ministry of finance; Debaprosad Debnath, general manager of the Bangladesh Bank financial intelligence unit; M Masum, private secretary to law minister, and Mohammad Abdur Rab, joint director of the Bangladesh Bank financial intelligence unit. SFM
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