Non-response from the Philippines, China, Malaysia and Sri Lanka causing delay in submitting charge-sheet
There is no headway, either on the investigation or the full recovery of the money an unidentified cyber gang stole from the account of the Bangladesh's central bank with the New York Federal Reserve four years ago.
The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) claimed their investigation into the case filed by the Bangladesh Bank on March 15, 2016 has already been completed.
However, they have not received information yet from other relevant countries about their citizens allegedly involved in the heist, causing delay in submitting the charge-sheet to the court.
The local investigating agency said the Philippines, China, Malaysia and Sri Lanka have not been responding to the CID's repeated calls for providing them with the necessary information.
The court has fixed February 28 as the new date for the submission of the report.
CID officials said they have identified the Bangladeshi citizens who were involved in the reserve heist. The charge-sheet will contain the names of many high officials of the central bank.
The CID Special Superintendent of Police Mostafa Kamal told The Business Standard that many local and foreign nationals are involved in the notorious case.
"For a complete investigation, we need information from 4-5 countries. The charge-sheet will be incomplete if it is pressed without including necessary information from these countries."
When asked whether they would submit the charge-sheet if those countries do not provide information, Mostafa Kamal said, "After consulting our high officials, we will submit the charge-sheet prepared based on what we have found."
On February 4, 2016, hackers stole $101 million from the Bangladesh Bank's accounts with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
Of the amount, $81 million was transferred to four accounts with the Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) in Manila and another $20 million to a bank in Sri Lanka.
However, the transfer of $20 million to Sri Lanka failed because of a spelling error by the hackers. The Bangladesh Bank got back that amount from Sri Lanka.
Later, the Bangladeshi central bank was able to retrieve about $15 million from the amount the Philippines realised in fine from the RCBC for its negligence in duty. About $66 million could not be recovered yet.
A source with the CID said, at two secretary-level meetings in Dhaka in December last year, Bangladesh sought details and financial information from the Philippines about their citizens involved in the heist.
The Philippines promised they would provide information after their justice department allowed them to do so.
The CID source said more than 10 cases in the Bangladesh Bank reserve heist are currently under trial in Bangladesh, the Philippines and the United States of America.
On January 31, 2019, the Bangladesh Bank filed a case against the RCBC with a US Court for the Southern District of New York, but there is not much progress on it.
"The case has been under trial for the last one year. When a date for hearing is fixed, different types of information is sought. The central bank officials have been providing the US court with that," said Abu Hena Mohd Razee Hassan, the head of the Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit (BFIU).
In Manila, the Philippines' Anti-Money Laundering Council also filed 12 cases against the RCBC but those too have not progressed much, he added.