Home Bangladesh Indo-Bangla security agencies investigating billion-dollar heist of BB
Bangladesh - 3 weeks ago

Indo-Bangla security agencies investigating billion-dollar heist of BB

Indian hackers behind it

Industry Desk: Unidentified suspected Indian hackers allegedly took to digital means and ferreted out a few billion dollars from Bangladesh Bank, the country’s central bank, about a week ago, at least three officials familiar with the heist revealed to the Northeast News.
While the sources were chary to disclose the amount sucked out of Bangladesh Bank, they confirmed that Indian and Bangladesh authorities, including the security agencies of the two countries were aware of the “sensational” heist and were “quietly” probing the crime.
The “digital robbery”, a consequence of hacking computer systems, comes at a time when Bangladesh’s foreign exchange reserves are at an all-time low with some officials suspecting that the figure might be in the “single digit”. This could cause associated problems, including “extreme difficulties” in settling import bills.
Officially, the central bank claimed on May 13 that the country’s net reserves were at $13.76 billion.

For the past two weeks, Bangladesh Bank authorities have restricted the entry of journalists into the central bank’s Motijheel headquarters.
The restrictive security measures prevailing on the Bank’s premises forced economist Debapriya Bhattacharya to say on May 7 that “something wrong was going on in Bangladesh Bank”. He, however, did not spell out what actually was wrong.
While Indian and Bangladesh security agencies were trying to ascertain the precise location of the hackers in India, they did not rule out the possibility of the involvement of more than one individual who may have operated from a third country.
The bank filches, the biggest in Bangladesh’s history, has sent shockwaves in the top echelons of the Bangladesh government, with very few senior central bank officials having direct knowledge of it.
This comes at a time when Bangladesh’s economy is in a tailspin with finance ministry and other officials in little or no position to contain the deteriorating situation.
This is the second time in eight years that Bangladesh Bank’s systems have been penetrated by hackers to cause massive financial loss.
In February 2016, unidentified hackers operating from the Philippines sucked out $81 million which could not be traced despite some preliminary investigations.
The level and depth of sophistication employed by the hackers involved compromising the bank’s network and navigating the SWIFT1 “gateway” to send 35 fraudulent fund transfer requests on behalf of the Bangladesh Bank.
At that time, senior Bangladesh Bank executives (including the then Governor Atiur Rahman) and government officials had successfully kept the bank heist under wraps.
Rahman had also failed to keep Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina informed of the heist, believing that the sucking out of the money was a consequence of technical glitches.
He had no knowledge or idea that long before the money was taken out, malware had been introduced into the central bank’s computer system.
Current Bangladesh Bank Governor Abdur Rouf Talukder did not respond to repeated calls over WhatsApp.
In October 2023, Northeast News had reported that the data of a few important commercial banks linked to an influential Bangladeshi businessman were suspected to have been breached by unidentified persons who “wiped out” digital details related to as many as 42 accounts and entries over a period of three months.
While Bangladesh Bank authorities launched an internal investigation, preliminary findings at that time suggested that entries related to Tk 2,000 crore deposits in several commercial banks were prima facie erased from the database.
The probe last year also centred around the “writing off” of loans to the tune of Tk 67,721 crore that a few large business establishments, closely linked to the country’s power structure, incurred over the past few years.
In December 2023, Bangladesh Bank had allocated 600 sq ft space on the terrace of its 30-storeyed main building complex in Dhaka for the Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI) to set up a new ‘listening’ and communications post.
While the move set of considerable disquiet among Bangladeshi political and security analysts, sources said at the time that additional space for the DGFI, and that too on the Bangladesh Bank’s terrace, was aimed at a “special operation” involving the use of communications devices.
Documents had revealed that the allotment was made in favour of the “main branch of the army intelligence, the DGFI’s Telecommunication, ICT Infrastructure, Human Resource Development and Technical Capacity Building-Project (TIHDTCB) and the army’s Dhaka headquarters”.
The document’s “remarks” column revealed that the space would be used for “establishing” the DGFI’s “walkie-talkie network expansion” and utilisation of “radio equipment”.

Check Also

New budget offers little for poor

Zarif Mahmud: The budget for the new financial year was presented last Thursday. Now the r…