As details of the bank heist that allowed hackers to lift nearly $81 million from the central bank of Bangladesh continue to emerge, the story now has a new twist as investigators continue the search for the mastermind behind the attack.
During a money laundering hearing at the Senate in Manila on Tuesday (March 29), Kim Wong, a Chinese resident of the Philippines and casino junket operator, denied any involvement with the scheme and said two high-rollers from Beijing and Macau brought the stolen funds into the country, Reuters reported.
Last week, the Philippines’ Department of Justice filed money laundering complaints against Kim Wong and another casino junket operator, who are believed to be the leaders of the heist that stole over $100 million from Bangladesh’s central bank.
This case has also involved the FBI, as the funds were from the central bank’s account with the New York Federal Reserve, which was eventually funneled into accounts in the Philippines and Sri Lanka.
While many of the attempted transfers aimed at laundering roughly $951 million were blocked, there was still $81 million that landed in casinos in Manila and with junket operators, Reuters confirmed.
Wong confirmed he would return $4.63 million in cash to the government watchdog investigating what may be one of the largest bank heists in history but maintained his innocence when it came to having any involvement in how money from the heist came to be in his possession.
"I have nothing to do with the forging of bank documents for the $81 million. I don't know the source of the $81 million," he reportedly said at the hearing.
According to a criminal complaint filed by the Philippines' Anti-Money Laundering Council, about $21 million of the stolen funds landed in a bank account for the company Eastern Hawaii, which Wong owns.
Earlier this week, the central bank of Bangladesh called on the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the Philippines’ central bank and money laundering authorities to help recover its stolen $81 million.
The New York Times reported on Sunday (March 27) that the new governor of Bangladesh Bank sent out formal letters requesting assistance as a result of the hack that yielded between $81 million and $101 million in funds and managed to ultimately vanish into the hands of cybercriminals, which took place earlier this year.