A Chinese man settled in the Philippines who is suspected to have received part of the $81mn stolen from the Bangladesh central bank will reveal all he knows about the heist next week, his lawyer said yesterday.
According to a complaint filed by a government agency in Manila, Kim Wong, described as a Chinese casino resort manager, received around $21mn of the funds.
Victor Fernandez, a lawyer for 53-year old Wong, told Reuters his client would respond to the complaint at a senate hearing next week.
Wong was summoned by the Senate last week but Fernandez represented him at the hearing and said his client was in Singapore. He returned on Sunday, Fernandez said.
“He will answer everything. He will not invoke his right to remain silent,” Fernandez said. “He will answer these questions in open session.”
Wong is scheduled to appear when the Senate resumes its hearing into the scandal on March 29.
Wong is a Chinese national but has lived in the Philippines for nearly 50 years, according to Fernandez. He declined to give more details on Wong, including his occupation.
Unknown hackers breached the computer systems of Bangladesh Bank in early February and attempted to steal $951mn from its account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, which it uses for international settlements.
Some attempted transfers were blocked, but $81mn wound up in the Philippines.
The Philippines’ anti-money laundering council described Wong as the president and general manager of Eastern Hawaii, a company that runs a casino resort in the northern Philippines, in a criminal complaint filed at the Justice Department on Tuesday.
According to the 9-page complaint, a copy of which was seen by Reuters, P1bn, or $21mn, of the $81mn ended up in a Philippine bank account of Eastern Hawaii between February 10-11.Reuters made repeated attempts to contact the company, but there has been no response.
Wong made several withdrawals from the account totalling P900.48mn ($19.45mn) between Feb 10-26, the complaint said.
It did not give full details but said the transfers included one on Feb 10 to Wong’s personal account in the same bank. The next day, he withdrew 400mn pesos in cash from that account, it said.
A Bangladeshi cyber crime expert who went missing while he was assisting a police investigation into an attempted $951mn electronic theft from the central bank’s computers, returned home early yesterday, his wife said.
Tanveer Hassan Zoha disappeared last Thursday, two days after he accompanied special police to the offices of the Bangladesh Bank and told reporters that he knew three of the user IDs that hackers deployed to carry out the largest cyber heist in history.
Police delivered him to their Dhaka home, his wife Kamrun Nahar Chowdhury said, although his disappearance was still a mystery.
She said the police told them he was found loitering around Dhaka airport. “He was very tired and is sleeping now,” she said.
Hackers breached the computer systems of Bangladesh Bank in early February and attempted to steal $951mn from its account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, which it uses for international settlements. Some transfers were blocked but $81mn was moved to accounts in the Philippines.
The theft has already led to the resignation of Bangladesh’s central bank governor.
Before his disappearance, Zoha spent several hours with members of a special police force at the central bank trying to identify the culprits behind the theft.
Two days later, he was taken away from a motorised rickshaw by people in plain clothes who blindfolded him and drove off with him in a vehicle, his wife said.
Kamrun Nahar said at the time that police had refused to investigate her husband’s disappearance and she appealed to the government for help to free him.
On Thursday she thanked reporters for putting pressure on the government to find her husband.
The government has also fired two deputy central bank governors, but is no closer to solving the attack on its computer systems. It has blamed the New York Fed for lapses and said it has hired a lawyer for a potential lawsuit against it.
Bangladesh’s central bank has hired a US lawyer for a potential lawsuit against the Federal Reserve Bank of New York after hackers stole $81mn from its account with the NY Fed, according to an internal report by the Bangladesh bank.
After the report surfaced on Tuesday in the Bangladesh capital of Dhaka, US Representative Carolyn Maloney called for a probe of last month’s cyber attack on Bangladesh Bank.
“This brazen heist from the Bangladesh central bank’s account at the New York Fed threatens to undermine the confidence that foreign central banks have in the Federal Reserve, and in the safety and soundness of international monetary transactions,” Maloney, a New York Democrat, said in a statement.
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