Wednesday, March 20, 2019 | ePaper

Move to settle BB heist case outside court

Muhith, Espenilla meet in Manila soon

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Kazi Zahidul Hasan :
Finance Minister AMA Muhith will hold a bilateral meeting with the Governor of Philippines Central Bank Nestor A. Espenilla Jr seeking the latter's active cooperation to speed up recovery of Bangladesh Bank's reserve heist fund.
They will meet on the sidelines of the 51st annual meeting of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) Board of Governors to be held in Manila from May 3-6.
Officials said a draft of talking points has been prepared for the Minister in discussion with the Philippines Central Bank Governor about the recovery process of major chunk of US$ 81.01 million sent to the Philippines Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) by cyber hacking from the account of Bangladesh central bank held with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
They, however, hinted that the meeting would be the Bangladesh government's last effort to settle the issue bilaterally before entering into a legal battle against the RCBC.
Muhith earlier unveiled a government plan to sue RCBC to channel the BB's stolen fund. Such a move can take many years to get back the stolen fund, cautioned banking experts earlier.   
 "The meeting is expected to give a significant breakthrough in retrieving rest of the stolen fund through bilateral negotiation," a senior BB official told The New Nation on Thursday wishing not to be named.
A sum of US$15 million was returned to Bangladesh Bank (BB) by the order of Regional Court, Manila in 2016. Court procedure continues     in the Philippines to recover rest of the fund.
The BB official said the minister (Muhith) will request the Philippines Central Bank Governor to expedite the court process. He will also ask the Governor for considering the possibilities to settle the issue outside the court involving all agencies concerned.
"The minister may seek the Governor's directive to the Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) to settle the issue with the Bangladesh central bank," he added.
The Philippines Central Bank, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), fined RCBC a record one billion Pesos (U$21 million) in August 2016 for its failure to prevent the movement of the stolen money through it.
"The imposition of fine by BSP on RCBC proved the connivance of RCBC in the reserve heist. We have sought compensation from the bank for bearing the responsibility of the theft. But it denied to pay it forcing BB to consider legal action," said the BB official.
Regarding BB's steps in this case, he said, Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit (BFIU) is coordinating the matter with BSP, Department of Justice (DoJ), Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMCL), President Commission on Good Government (PCGG) and Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) of the Philippines.
The Bangladesh embassy in Manila is providing necessary assistance to Bangladesh bank in this regard.
In February 2016, fraudulent payment instructions were sent to Federal Reserve Bank of New York by unknown hackers instructing the New York's bank to transfer US$81.01 million to four fake accounts RCBC. The stolen fund was rapidly transferred to some casino operators by the RCBC disagreeing the "Stop Payment" request by the Bangladesh Bank (BB) and also RCBC's intermediary bank in New York.

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