Bangladesh vows to act against its Central Bank over cyber heist

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DHAKA / Bloomberg

Bangladesh’s finance minister has pledged to act against its central bank for not informing him about a cyber heist in which hackers broke into a Bangladesh Bank account with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York last month.
Abul Maal Abdul Muhith, the finance minister, told reporters in Dhaka on Sunday that he was going to meet Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and planned to issue a statement on the matter, which involved the unauthorized transfer of at least $100 million from the central bank’s account with the New York Fed.
“I will certainly take some action against Bangladesh Bank,” Muhith said, without elaborating. “Bangladesh Bank has the audacity not to inform me.”
The central bank said last Monday the funds had been stolen by hackers and that some had been traced to the Philippines, where it was working with local authorities. Muhith said last Tuesday the Fed was responsible for the missing money and planned a legal fight to retrieve the funds.
A Fed spokeswoman said afterward that instructions to make the payments from the central bank’s account followed protocol and were authenticated by the SWIFT codes system. There were no signs the Fed’s systems were hacked, she said.
The central bank has retrieved $20 million of the money, while another $81 million has yet to be traced, it said in a March 11 post on its Facebook page.
“Cyber attacks are not unexpected,” Muhith said Sunday. “It appears that our protection systems have some flaws.”
Bangladesh is the 20th most-cyber attacked country, according to a real time cyber threat map developed by Kaspersky Lab, an international software security company.
Earlier Muhith had claimed that the US Federal Reserve was responsible for at least $100 million stolen from Bangladesh’s account.
“We kept money with the Federal Reserve Bank and irregularities must be with the people who handle the funds there,” Muhith said. “It can’t be that they don’t have any responsibility.”
A clear picture of the alleged misappropriation of funds has yet to emerge, in a case that appears to span the globe from Bangladesh to the US to the Philippines, an East Asian country with few economic ties to the South Asian nation.
A Federal Reserve Bank of New York spokeswoman had said earlier there was no sign its systems had been hacked after Bangladesh Bank reported the missing funds.
There is no evidence of any attempt to penetrate Federal Reserve systems in connection with the payments in question, and no evidence that any Fed systems were compromised, the spokeswoman said.
The instructions to make the payments from the account of Bangladesh’s central bank followed standard protocols.
The Fed has been working with and assisting Bangladesh since the incident, she said.
Bangladesh Bank is the Central bank of Bangladesh and is a member of the Asian Clearing Union.
The bank is active in developing green banking and financial inclusion policy and is an important member of the Alliance for Financial Inclusion. Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit (BFIU), a department of Bangladesh Bank, has got the membership of Egmont Group.
Bangladesh Bank is the first central bank in the world to introduce a dedicated hotline (16236) for the general populace to complain any banking related problem. Moreover, the organization is the first central bank in the world to issue a “Green Banking Policy”.

To acknowledge this contribution, current-Governor Dr. Atiur Rahman was given the title ‘Green Governor’ at the 2012 United Nations Climate Change Conference, held at the Qatar National Convention Centre in Doha .

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