Government Policy

Philippines assures Dhaka over heist money: Anisul

Law minister Anisul Huq today said the Philippines authorities assured Bangladesh of taking appropriate steps to return the heist money, as he returned home overnight from Manila.

"Philippines government has expressed its willingness to return the heist money . . . they earlier proved their intention in their works and deeds so far," he told newsmen at a briefing at his office

Huq said during his four-day Manila tour he had "fruitful" talks with the Philippines finance minister and the Senate Committee president when Bangladesh delegation particularly requested the Philippines senate committee president to arrange another hearing for returning the heist money, deposited in banks in the East Asian country.

Huq said the first senate committee hearing could not reach a decisive decision as the Philippines was busy with elections at that time.

"Immediately, he (senate president) accepted the request and directed his office to give a date for hearing," the minister said.

Huq said during the meeting the senate president said "the Philippines will provide all kinds of assistance to Bangladesh to return the heist money" as Manila's friendship with Bangladesh "is very strong".

The minister expressed the hope that Bangladesh would get back the entire stolen money while a case was now also pending with a Philippines court on the matter which was expected to be disposed of soon.

The law minister's briefing came two days after Philippines commercial Rizal Bank (RCBC) said it had "no reason to compensate Bangladesh Bank", a stance indicating its unwillingness to repatriate the heist amount deposited with it.

A RCBC lawyer on Tuesday said that Bangladesh Bank was "negligent" in regard to the heist as the initial security breach was "its (BBs) own fault", according to an international media.

Finance Minister AMA Muhith yesterday called "not ethical" the RCBC stance against returning the stolen money, expecting the Philippines government and central bank there to take steps to repatriate the amount.

Muhith also said after the RCBC announcement, Bangladesh would now wait for the Philippines government and central bank's steps in this regard.

Hackers had stolen a total $101 million from Bangladesh's account at the New York Fed in February.

Of the amount, $81 million was transferred to four accounts at RCBC in Manila and another $20 million to a bank in Sri Lanka but their effort to transfer of $20 million to Sri Lanka was failed because of a spelling error by the hackers.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)