• Wednesday, Sep 28, 2022
  • Last Update : 09:54 am

BB reserve heist: Lawsuit filed with NY court

  • Published at 03:30 am February 1st, 2019
web-Bangladesh bank-bb
The Bangladesh Bank building at Motijheel Mehedi Hasan/ Dhaka Tribune

Funds were stolen from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in February 2016

Bangladesh Bank has filed a lawsuit with a United States federal court in New York, over the $81 million stolen from its reserve account. 

The funds were stolen from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in February, 2016.

Confirming the matter to the Dhaka Tribune, Abu Hena Md Razi Hasan, chief of the Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit said: “A lawsuit was filed in the early hours of Friday [Bangladesh time] against Philippines-based Rizal Commercial Banking Corp (RCBC) and several ‘undisclosed individuals’.”

“All processes relating to the lawsuit were complete by 7am on Friday morning. Following the return of our team, we will disclose all information regarding this lawsuit.”

According to a central bank source, a team of senior BB officials went to New York on Sunday to file the lawsuit with the US District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Talking to the Dhaka Tribune, Barrister Tanjib-ul Alam, a lawyer of Appellate Division of the Supreme Court said: “It is true that RCBC received the stolen money and distributed it through different channels by their officials. They cannot avoid liability. 

“It has been proven by a Philippines court that the officials of RCBC were involved in this heist. Their court has already sentenced a former RCBC branch manager to jail.”

Barrister Tanjib-ul Alam also said that the lawsuit should be filed as quickly as possible. 

“There was a lot of evidence in hand, but three years have already passed. It is difficult to prove the delay in the case. But it is also true that such a suit cannot be filed hastily,” he said.

“There is a huge of possibility of Bangladesh winning this case,” he added.  

A Dhaka court set February 10 as the new deadline by which the probe report has to be submitted in the case filed over the cyber heist, after the investigating officer failed to submit it on January 9.

Also Read- BB reserve heist: Lawsuit to be filed with NY court Friday

The deadline of submitting the probe report to the court has changed 28 times so far.

Ex-RCBC banker convicted

On January 10, a Philippine court found former RCBC branch manager Maia Deguito guilty on eight counts of money laundering; the first conviction in the heist case.

According to a Reuters report, the regional court sentenced Deguito to a jail term ranging from 32 to 56 years, with each count carrying four to seven years.

She was also ordered to pay a fine of about $109 million.

The stolen money had been sent to the accounts at a branch of RCBC in Manila, then headed by Deguito, before it disappeared into the casino industry in the Philippines.

Manila urged to expedite case

A former treasurer of RCBC, along with five other employees of the bank branch from where the cash was withdrawn, is also facing money-laundering charges.

Earlier this month, Bangladesh urged the Philippines to expedite the cases against the remaining six RCBC officials after Deguito's conviction.

The Philippine central bank fined RCBC a record one billion pesos ($19.17 million) in August 2016 for its failure to prevent the stolen money from being moved through the bank.

Of the $101 million stolen during the heist, $20 million was recovered from a Sri Lankan bank, while the remaining $81 million, which landed at RCBC, has yet to be retrieved.

On February 5, 2016, unidentified hackers stole $101 million from Bangladesh Bank's account with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, using fake orders on the SWIFT payment system. It was one of the largest cybercrimes in the world.

The lawsuit comes three years after the cyber heist, which saw $81 million siphoned off to accounts at RCBC.

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