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Bank chief quits over $81m theft

International Business
Wed, 16 Mar 2016

Dhaka: Bangladesh’s central bank governor resigned yesterday over the theft of $81 million from the bank’s US account, as details emerged in the Philippines that $30m of the money was delivered in cash to a casino junket operator in Manila.

The rest of the money hackers stole from the Bangladesh Bank’s account at the New York Federal Reserve, one of the largest cyber thefts in history, went to two casinos, officials told a Philippines Senate hearing into the scandal.

They said a mix of dollars and Philippine pesos was sent by a foreign exchange broker to the ethnic Chinese junket operator over several days, a haul that would have been made up of at least 780,000 banknotes.

Unknown hackers last month breached the computer systems of Bangladesh Bank and attempted to steal $951m from its Fed account, which it uses for international settlements. They managed to transfer $81m to entities in the Philippines.

Bangladesh Bank officials have said there is little hope of apprehending the perpetrators and recovering the money would be difficult and could take months.

In Dhaka, central bank governor Atiur Rahman said he had resigned to set an example in a country where there is little precedence of accountability and to uphold the image of the institution.

The government also fired two deputy governors of the bank, Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith said, days after blaming it for keeping the government in the dark about the theft.

Rahman’s exit could be a blow to Bangladesh, a South Asian nation of 160m. The country has been aspiring to reach middle-income status, and Rahman was seen as one of the driving forces helping Dhaka towards that goal.

He described the heist as an “earthquake” and said the bank had promptly informed intelligence agencies in Bangladesh and abroad and also brought in international experts to investigate.

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