The Bangladesh cyberheist that occurred back in February has created a lot of noise — and spurred a lot of investigations — but what hasn’t happened yet is actually finding the person or group responsible for stealing $81 million via the central bank’s account at the NY Fed.
And according to several official and private investigators who spoke with Reuters, the money trail has gone cold. There have been no arrests in the case, and the Philippines’ National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) said it hasn’t even been allowed to fully involve itself in the probe. On the U.S. side, the FBI is on the case, and the central bank of Bangladesh has also called upon the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to help track the funds.
At one time, Bangladesh Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith was looking into whether to proceed with filing a lawsuit against the New York Fed for what is being regarded as one of the biggest bank cyberheists in history.
The money is believed to have been transferred to the Philippines, since, historically, the country has been known for its loose money laundering laws.
One private investigator who is following the case called the heist “the modern-day Ocean’s 11.”
According to the Reuters report, another major factor slowing down the investigation — and perhaps hindering its outcome — is a series of old-fashioned bank laws that prohibit the sharing of details about deposits and foreign currency.
The only link to the money came when money was transferred into two casino junket owners’ accounts, but one of the casino owners denied knowing how or why the money ended up there. A formal complaint was filed against the casino owners but not much more has been reported on that front. In that case, $29 million was routed into the casino. But after that, the money trail led nowhere.
Most recently, representatives from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Bangladesh Bank and SWIFT agreed to work together to track down the stolen funds. Bangladeshi police and banking officials have said that the connection of SWIFT messaging to a new bank transaction system could have led to the cyberheist, with the change being made just months before the cyberattack occurred. SWIFT later fired back at those allegations, saying it was not responsible for any of the issues.