Law enforcers have seized 11 laptops of Bangladesh Bank officers in the wake of the recent heist of $101m from the central bank’s reserves that were kept with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
The laptops were seized on Sunday night.
Wishing anonymity, a high official of the law enforcement agency said those officers work in the account and budget section of Bangladesh Bank.
The officer said: “Legal action will be taken against them if we find evidence of their involvement with the heist.”
However, the agency requested not to disclose its name as they do not have formal charge from the central bank to investigate the recent hacking.
After the matter of hacking came to light, a RAB team comprising IT experts visited the central bank and checked the server system. They also talked to some officials, Commander Mufti Mahmud Khan, director of RAB’s legal and media wing, told the Dhaka Tribune.
The central bank has not sought formal assistance from any agency to conduct an investigation into the sensational incident.
Presently, the Criminal Investigation Department is looking into the matter while the Rapid Action Battalion is conducting a shadow investigation.
The investigation source concerned also informed that the hard disk of the laptops would be sent for forensic analysis.
If needed, the 11 officers would be interrogated based on evidence found from the forensic test.
When asked, Mufti Mahmud Khan, director of legal and media wing of RAB, said although the elite force is conducting a shadow investigation but nothing mentionable has been yet found in the probe.
Around $101m was taken away by hackers from of Bangladesh Bank's overseas account with a US bank.
On February 4, $81m from the account of Bangladesh Bank at the New York Fed was ordered to be transferred to the four RCBC accounts – $30m was transferred to Lagrosas, $19.99m to Vergara, $25m to Vasquez and $6m to Cruz.
The funds were credited to the accounts via straight-through process after the transactions passed internal validation criteria. The funds were cleared through US-based correspondent banks Citibank, The Bank of New York Mellon and Wells Fargo.
The same day, Lagrosas withdrew $22.73m and deposited it in the US dollar account of William Go DBA Centurytex Trading, an account which was opened that day, PDI reports.
Between February 5 and 13, remittance company Philrem remitted the funds, now converted into Philippine pesos, to the bank accounts of Chinese national Weikang Xu, Eastern Hawaii Leisure Co and Bloomberry Hotels Inc (Solaire Resorts).
By the time Dhaka sent off frantic messages to halt the transaction, there was nobody in the office in Manila to respond.
On February 9, RCBC received a Swift message from BB requesting payment to be stopped and the accounts to be frozen for investigation. But withdrawals from the accounts totalling $58.15m had already been processed by RCBC.
Some $15.2m was deposited in the account of Philrem, $42.93m in Go’s dollar account and another $20m in Philrem, PDI reports.
On February 16, BB Governor Atiur Rahman sought the assistance of Philippine counterpart, Governor Amando Tetangco Jr of Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, PDI reports.
Three days later, the Philippines’ Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) began a probe of bank accounts relating to Weikang Xu (believed to be a junket operator), Eastern Hawaii Leisure Co and Solaire Resorts.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer broke the story of a possible $100m digital bank robbery of BB funds on February 29.