Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) ordered to return confisticated funds to the Bangladesh Bank
The court has declared Bangladesh to be the rightful owner of the funds, totaling $15 million, Ricardo Paras III, chief state counsel of the Philippines’ Department of Justice, said while reading out a copy of the court’s ruling to a Reuters reporter.
Unknown hackers tried to steal nearly $1 billion from the Bangladesh central bank’s account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in early February and succeeded in transferring $81 million to four accounts at Rizal Commercial Banking Corp in Manila.
During a Philippine Senate hearing into the heist which ended in May, a casino junket operator claimed to have received $35 million of the stolen funds but only returned $15 million.
It is not clear what happened to the rest of the money.
Bangladesh had to file a petition staking its claim to the money before it could be turned over to it.
“(The) court ordered the release of the cash now in the BSP vault to the People’s Republic of Bangladesh,” as per Reuters
A further $2.7 million frozen by the Philippines’ casino regulator, which Bangladesh is also attempting to recover.
Once news of the order reached Dhaka, Bangladesh Bank officials, at a press conference, expressed the hope of recovering the entire stolen funds.
The central bank’s assistant spokesperson Mokammel Haque said the court in the Philippines had ordered the release of $4.63 million and 488.28 million pesos, totaling $1.5 million, which have already been recovered and stored in BSP.
Haque said the legal process to recover the rest of the stolen funds was under way.
“We hope Bangladesh will soon be able to collect the entire amount of the stolen money,” he added.
He also said BSP had been cooperating with the Bangladesh authorities ‘wholeheartedly.’
The Bangladesh Bank assistant spokesperson, Anwarul Islam, and the Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit General Manager, Deb Prasad Debnath, were present at the news conference.
($1 = ₱47.9100 or $1 = ৳78.9)