Philippine trial court ordered BSP to return recovered $15m to Bangladesh


Dhaka, September 19: Bangladesh recovered its $15 million (Tk 120 crore) that was stolen from the reserve of the Bangladesh Bank (BB) earlier this year by the hackers.

A regional trial court of Philippine on Monday ordered the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to return to the Bangladesh central bank a recovered portion of the $81 million that was stolen from the bank.

After the court’s order, the process to recover the stolen money of Tk 6.5 crore from the BB reserve has now been opened.

Four months ago Philippines Casino junket operator Kim Wong returned Tk 120 crore. As per Philippines law, this amount of money was seized by the state.

When Bangladesh claimed for the stolen money, the Philippines court on Monday ordered to return the amount.

Bangladesh ambassador to Philippines John Gomez said that the process to realize the next Tk 19.5 crore which is lying at the Casino of Manila would now start after such an order of the court.

The ambassador further said the court’s order has removed the impediments to a great extent to recover the whole amount of money stolen from BB reserve.

He also said that the a team led by law minister Anisul Huq is likely to visit Philippines next month to recover the rest of the money stolen from the BB reserve.

Meanwhile, the court has declared Bangladesh as the rightful owner of the funds, totalling $15 million, Ricardo Paras III, chief state counsel of the Philippines’ Department of Justice.

On February 4, USD 101 million was stolen by hackers from the Bangladesh Bank’s reserves with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, through Rizal Commercial

Banking Corporation (RCBC) in the Philippines and Pan Asia Banking Corporation in Sri Lanka.

During a Philippine Senate hearing into the heist which ended in May, a casino junket operator claimed to have received $35 million of the stolen funds but only returned $15 million. It is not clear what happened to the remainder of the money.

Bangladesh had to file a petition staking its claim to the money before it could be turned over to them.

Meanwhile, the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of Bangladesh police has detected negligence on the part of at least 13 officials of four departments of the BB in the USD 81 million heist from a BB account, said CID’s additional inspector general Shah Alam.

He said steps would be taken against those officials. “We have also identified 25 citizens of the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and China, who were involved in this major bank heist,” the senior officer added.

Among the 13 BB officials, four are from the accounts and budget department, three from the information technology operations and communications, two from the forex reserves and treasury management department, and four from the payment systems department, disclosed Alam.

The CID also identified five foreign organisations behind the bank heist—Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC), Philrem Service Corporation, Eastern Hawaii Leisure Company Limited, Ramberry Hotel, and Salika Foundation.

Investigators claimed that they have uncovered some previously unknown vital information during the investigation. The CID is investigating the bank heist in coordination with the law enforcement agencies of 12 countries as well as with Interpol and embassies.