After the recent scandal where hackers have siphoned away $100 million, Bangladesh Bank has taken initiatives to install an Indian software to protect the banking sector from online cyber theft. Experts believe the latest initiative will put the banking sector at even greater risks. Many Bangladesh Bank officials are also concerned about the bank’s latest decision.
The new software will be supplied by World Informatix, founded by Rakesh Asthana, former IT Director and deputy CIO of the World Bank. The new software will be installed in various Bangladesh Bank units and servers.
The latest software will be installed in all computers at all Bangladesh Bank branches. The Bangladesh Bank governor, Atiar Rahman, has signed an order on March 7 regarding this matter. According to sources, the decision came after a verbal suggestion from Rakesh Asthana.
Experts have said that installing these software will mean that all internal data of the Bangladesh Bank will be at the disposal of the Indian IT firm. Bangladesh Bank needs to evaluate the security risks associated with this new measure, they added.
According to Bangladesh Bank sources, the hackers manually infiltrated the central server and stole passwords and SWIFT codes. They then sent orders to the New York Fed through the same server.
Top officials of the Ministry of Finance have said they believe that this not a hacking incident and some Bangladesh Bank officials are involved with the heist. They have asked the investigation committee to interrogate those BB officials.
Over in Philippines, investigators have identified 6 possible suspects. They are being questioned by the country’s Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC).The identified suspects are Michael Francisco Cruz, Jessie Christopher Lagrosas, Alfred Santos Vergara, Enrico Teodoro Vasquez, William So Go and Kam Sin Wong (Kim Wong).
Five of them maintain accounts with the Rizal Commercial Bank Corp (RCBC), which were used to move the money stolen from Bangladesh Bank’s account in the US, the report said, citing official documents.
The Daily Inquirer report said that Cruz, Lagrosas, Vergara and Vasquez opened US dollar accounts with RCBC in May 2015, with the minimum deposit of $500.
No transactions were made through the four accounts until Feb 5 this year when $81 million was wired from Bangladesh Bank’s account with the NY Federal Reserve Bank. The funds were then transferred to 2 casinos, which are not governed by the country’s money-laundering laws.
Meanwhile, the manager of RCBC Maia Santos-Deguito, is feeling the heat of the allegation of laundering. According to sources, she opened one of the accounts to which most of the stolen $81 million was transferred. However, Santos-Deguito has denied all claims of involvement.