Swift supports Bangladesh Bank network rebuild after 2016 cyberattack
Swift has signed an agreement with Bangladesh’s central bank to help it rebuild its infrastructure after hackers used it to steal $81 million in 2016 in the world’s biggest cyber heist.
Swift told the news to Reuters in a statement: “Swift, the New York Fed and Bangladesh Bank have worked together since the cyber fraud event occurred … to recover the entire proceeds of the crime and to bring the perpetrators to justice in cooperation with law enforcement from other jurisdictions.”
FinTech Futures contacted a Swift spokesperson for clarification and was told: “We’ve got nothing to give you at this point in time, but I’ll let you know once that changes.”
The news dates back to March 2016, when the cyber heist had central bank officials from Bangladesh to New York quarrelling over what may be one of the biggest and boldest bank raids in history.
At that time, Bangladesh Bank said the total was “wrongly transmitted”, of which $20 million went to a Sri Lankan bank. The fallout led to quarrels and questions, with Swift rejecting allegations made by the bank and Bangladesh Police’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officials that it was to blame.
In the latest chapter, Reuters explains that Swift’s comments came after the New York Fed agreed to provide “technical assistance” to Bangladesh Bank in its lawsuit against Manila-based Rizal Commercial Banking Corp (RCBC). RCBC was used to funnel the money, much of which disappeared into the casinos of the Philippines.
RCBC has called the legal action by Bangladesh Bank – and beyond the US jurisdiction – “completely baseless” and “nothing more than a thinly veiled PR campaign” to shift blame from itself.
A person familiar with the technical assistance agreement, and that spoke with Reuters, says the Fed would prepare affidavits and clear employees to testify at hearings or a trial, and also allow Bangladesh Bank to interview employees. It would also provide relevant non-privileged documents and information to Bangladesh Bank or to the court.
Bangladesh Bank lawyer Ajmalul Hossain QC declined to comment on Swift’s role in the legal case against RCBC.
In its suit filed with the US District Court in Manhattan, Bangladesh Bank accused RCBC and dozens of others, including several top executives, of involvement in a “massive” and “intricately planned” multi-year conspiracy to steal its money.
As FinTech Futures reported in July 2018, Bangladesh Bank’s heist probe report was delayed a staggering 25 times at that time.