Bangladesh sues RCBC over $81-M cyberheist

MANILA, Philippines – Bangladesh's central bank has sued Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) over its involvement in the $81-million cyberheist  in 2016.

A Reuters report said the complaint was filed before the U.S. District  in Manhattan on Thusday, January 31.

The report said that in the complaint, Bangladesh Bank accused RCBC "and dozens of others, including several top executives, of involvement in a 'massive' and 'intricately planned' multi-year conspiracy to steal its money."

Bangladesh central bank governor Fazle Kabir earlier told Agence France-Presse that the case would be filed to try and retrieve the stolen funds.

Bangladesh had sent a legal team to New York and was prepared to fight for the money to be returned, Kabir had told reporters in the capital Dhaka.

In February 2016, unidentified hackers stole $81 million from the Bangladesh central bank's account with the US Federal Reserve in New York.

The money was then transferred to a Manila branch of the RCBC, swiftly withdrawn and laundered through local casinos.

The Philippines in 2016 imposed a record $21 million fine on RCBC after investigating its role in the audacious cyber heist.

'Political stunt'

RCBC downplayed the case filed by Bangladesh Bank as a “political stunt.”

“We will show that this suit is nothing more than a political stunt by the Bangladesh Bank to try to shift blame from themselves to RCBC,” RCBC lawyer Tai-Heng Cheng said in a press statement on Friday, February 1.

Cheng said Bangladesh Bank's suit came 3 years late, a supposed indication that the bank was not serious in recovering the money.

He also said that the scandal was rooted in Bangladesh Bank’s lapses in security protocols and errors.

“We believe it is telling that they have concealed information from their own investigation and despite admitting their own culpability, continue to try to blame others,” he said.

RCBC earlier said it was ready to face the cases, but hoped that Bangladesh Bank would be transparent and would “stop blaming everybody but itself.” (READ: How Bangladesh Bank dirty money easily got into PH)

In January, a Makati court convicted RCBC branch manager Maia Deguito  of money laundering in connection with 2016 Bangladesh Bank heist. She was sentenced to to 4 to 7 years in prison for each of the 8 counts of money laundering and ordered to pay $109 million in penalties

Deguito has appealed the decision. 

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas previously slapped a whopping P1-billion fine against the bank over the incident. – With reports from Ralf Rivas, Agence France-Presse / Rappler.com