Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Reserve heist: Philippine bank’s lawyer calls Bangladesh suit ‘political stunt’

  • News Desk,
    Published: 2019-02-01 11:51:52 BdST


The Philippine bank being sued for conspiracy to steal Bangladesh Bank reserve has labelled the lawsuit a “political stunt”.

Quinn Emanuel, a US law firm, has been hired to defend the suit, Rizal Commercial Banking Corp (RCBC) said in a stock exchange filing on Friday.

Bangladesh Bank filed the lawsuit at the US District Court in Manhattan on Thursday evening, nearly three years after hackers stole $81 million from its account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

The case accuses the Manila-based bank and dozens of others, including several top executives, of involvement in a “massive” and “intricately planned” multi-year conspiracy to steal its money.

"This is nothing more than a thinly veiled PR campaign disguised as a lawsuit. Based on what we have heard, this suit is completely baseless," Tai-Heng Cheng, Quinn Emanuel’s lead attorney to the case, was quoted in the filing as saying.

“We will show that this suit is nothing more than a political stunt by the Bangladesh Bank to try to shift blame from themselves to RCBC.”

RCBC branch manager Maia Deguioto was found guilty of eight charges of money laundering by a Philippine court earlier in January, the first conviction in one of the world's largest cyber heists.

Deguioto, who is facing 32 to 56 years in prison, said she will file an appeal.

The case arose from a February 2016 incident when hackers tricked the New York Fed into sending out the $81 million.

Funds eventually landed in four accounts held in fake names at an RCBC branch in Makati City. Much of it was quickly withdrawn, and only about $15 million has been recovered.

Bangladesh Bank said funds were stolen with the help of unnamed North Korean hackers who used malware with such names as “Nestegg” and “Macktruck” to obtain backdoor access its network.

It said funds were then funnelled through RCBC accounts in New York City and to the Philippines, where much of it disappeared in that country’s casino industry.