The funds were stolen when cybercriminals hacked into Bangladesh’s systems and sent fake orders via SWIFT to the NY Fed. While $1 billion was requested, $81 million was eventually sent to accounts at Manila-based Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC), and then mostly disappeared into Philippine casinos. So far, only about $15 million has been recovered.
Last week, the NY Fed agreed to formally assist Bangladesh Bank in a lawsuit against RCBC to recover the stolen funds.
SWIFT did not say if it would assist with the lawsuit, and Bangladesh Bank’s lawyer, Ajmalul Hossain, declined to comment on any role the network might play in the legal case.
“SWIFT, the New York Fed and Bangladesh Bank have worked together since the cyber fraud event occurred ... to recover the entire proceeds of the crime and to bring the perpetrators to justice in cooperation with law enforcement from other jurisdictions,” SWIFT said in a statement to Reuters.
The company added that it would continue to support efforts to protect the global financial system from future attacks.
For its part, RCBC says the lawsuit is beyond the U.S. jurisdiction, as well as “completely baseless” and “nothing more than a thinly veiled PR campaign” to shift blame from itself.
The court filing, submitted last week in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, accuses RCBC of being involved in a “massive” and “intricately planned” plot to steal the money. As part of its agreement with Bangladesh Bank, the NY Fed will prepare affidavits and approve employees to testify at hearings or a trial, as well as allow the bank’s representatives to interview employees. A joint statement added that the two will be “meeting jointly with the relevant agencies or parties in the Philippines to strongly encourage them to assist in the recovery of stolen funds.”