Atiur Rahman, the governor of Bangladesh’s Central Bank, resigned Tuesday after more than $100 million was stolen from the bank’s account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York last month.
Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith said Tuesday that Rahman resigned over the theft, in which hackers transferred $81 million from the New York Fed to bank accounts in the Philippines.
Another US$20 million went to a Sri Lankan bank, according to Subhankar Saha, a spokesman for Bangladesh Bank. That transfer was later reversed by Sri Lanka’s central bank.
A Bangladesh Bank official and an official at the Ministry of Finance said up to 35 transfer requests were sent to the US Federal Reserve through an interbank messaging system known as Swift on February 5.
Whoever made the requests had the necessary codes to authorize Swift transfers and put in the payment requests during a weekend, Wall Street Journal reported quoting officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Later, it was revealed that a spelling mistake in an online bank transfer instruction to remit money to Sri Lanka helped prevent the nearly $1 billion heist last month involving the Bangladesh Central Bank and the New York Federal Reserve.
Four requests to transfer a total of about US$81 million to the Philippines went through, but a fifth, for US$20 million, to a Sri Lankan non-profit organization was held up because the hackers misspelled the name of the NGO, Shalika Foundation.
Hackers misspelled “foundation” in the NGO’s name as “fandation”, prompting a routing bank, Deutsche Bank, to seek clarification from the Bangladesh central bank, which stopped the transaction, Reuters said quoting anonymous officials. It has been reported that there is no NGO under the name of Shalika Foundation in the list of registered Sri Lankan non-profits.
“Initially, the Sri Lankan transaction reached Pan Asia Banking Corp PABC.CM, which went back to Deutsche Bank for more verification because of the unusually large size of the payment. The transaction was too large for a country like us. Then (Deutsche) came back and said it was a suspect transaction,” the Reuters report said noting that the revelation came from a Pan Asia Bank official.
Bangladesh Bank has said it has recovered some of the money that was stolen, and is working with anti-money laundering authorities in the Philippines to try to recover the rest.