Muhith defers releasing BB heist probe report

Dhaka,  Monday,   2016-09-21
Published : 21 Sep 2016, 16:25:12 | Updated : 21 Sep 2016, 16:27:34

Muhith defers releasing BB heist probe report

Finance Minister AMA Muhith deferred releasing the final probe report on the Bangladesh Bank cyber heist.

"It will not be released tomorrow…Will take quite some time," Muhith told reporters at his office on Wednesday, reports bdnews24.com.

On Sunday, he told the media that the findings of government-commissioned investigation committee will be published on Thursday. He, however, took a u-turn from it on Wednesday.

After the investigation team, headed by former Bangladesh bank governor Mohammed Farashuddin, handed it to Muhith on May 30, the minister had said that it would be made public after he finished ‘going through it’.

The probe committee had hinted at the involvement of bank insiders in its report. Later, the minister had several times said the report would be published soon.

Muhith said on Wednesday that the findings might 'upset' the talks between Philippines and Bangladesh.

"We have already opened talks with the Philippines as well as initiated legal procedures there. The report might upset those. We will release it later…Can't say a specific date. It will be published," said the finance minister.

In an audacious bank heist, hackers tried to swindle $1 billion belonging to Bangladesh from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York by using forged commands through SWIFT Messaging system in February.

The hackers had siphoned off $81 million to an account in the Philippines using five messages. Another $20 million were moved to Sri Lanka through another command.

Though the Sri Lankan transfer was stopped, the Philippines transfer was successful and after conversion into the local currency, the money made its way to gambling dens, making it impossible to be recovered.

However, people in Bangladesh learned about the largest cyber heist in the world through reports published in a Filipino newspaper a month after the incident.

Atiur Rahman had to quit the position of governor of Bangladesh Bank after drawing flak for keeping the theft under wraps. It was followed by a major overhaul of the top brass of Bangladesh Bank.

The central bank also initiated a case with Motijheel police over the heist; and on Mar 15, the government appointed a three-member probe team headed by Mohammed Farashuddin.

The committee was entrusted to look into various angles related to the theft, including tracing those at whose behest the forged messages to transfer the funds were sent, to ascertain the logic behind keeping the incident under wraps for up to a month by the Bangladesh Bank authorities, to see if the personnel of the bank were negligent in their duty and other vital areas.

The probe committee submitted the interim report to the finance minister on Apr 20 and the final report on May 30.

After submitting the report, Farashuddin had said that the team had “deviated slightly” from their initial stand, declaring that no bank employee was involved in the incident.

Neither the finance minister nor Farashuddin divulged details as to who was involved in the theft or what punitive actions would be taken. –RH
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