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Philippine Bank Threatens Counter-Suit Over World’s Biggest Cyber-Heist

The Philippine bank used by hackers to transfer money in the world’s biggest cyber heist warned of tit-for-tat legal action Thursday, after Bangladeshi officials said they would sue the lender.

The Philippine bank used by hackers to transfer money in the world’s biggest cyber heist warned of tit-for-tat legal action Thursday, after Bangladeshi officials said they would sue the lender.

Unidentified hackers stole $81 million from the Bangladesh central bank’s account with the US Federal Reserve in New York two years ago, then transferred it to a Manila branch of the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp (RCBC).

The funds were then swiftly withdrawn and laundered through local casinos.

Bangladeshi officials said Wednesday they are readying a case against RCBC for its alleged role in the heist.

One of the officials, Bangladesh’s Finance Minister A.M.A Muhith, said last year he wanted to “wipe out” RCBC.

But RCBC maintained the February 2016 cyber-heist was an “inside job” and that the Philippine bank was being used as a scapegoat to hide the real culprits.

RCBC, one of the Philippines’ largest banks, charged that Bangladeshi officials were hiding their own findings into the crime, possibly to conceal the involvement of their own officials in the heist.

“RCBC has had it and will consider a lawsuit against Bangladesh Central Bank officials for claiming the bank had a hand in the $81M cyber-heist,” the Philippine lender said in a statement.

“They are perpetuating the cover-up and using RCBC as a scapegoat to keep their people in the dark,” the RCBC statement said.

The Philippine central bank imposed a record $21 million fine on RCBC after the discovery of the heist as it investigated the lender’s alleged role in the theft.

Only a small amount of the stolen money has been recovered.

Money-laundering charges were also filed against the RCBC branch manager. 

The US reserve bank, which manages the Bangladesh Bank reserve account, has denied its own systems were breached.

Written By

AFP 2023

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