Rizal sues Bangladesh central bank for defamation over $81 million cyber heist

14, Mar. 2019

MAKATI CITY, NNA – The Philippines’ Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) is suing Bangladesh Bank for defamation in connection with an $81 million cyber heist involving the South Asian country’s central bank in 2016, the Manila-based bank announced Tuesday.

RCBC, one of the largest banks in the Philippines, claims Bangladesh’s central bank has damaged its reputation with “baseless allegations of complicity” over what is thought to be the biggest cyber heist to date.

In February 2016, hackers, who have still not been identified, stole $101 million from the Bangladesh central bank’s account at the Federal Bank of New York. $81 million of the amount was transferred to accounts at RCBC, and channeled to local casinos and a foreign exchange dealer before being transferred out of the Philippines.

“Bangladesh Bank has embarked on a massive ploy and scheme to extort money from plaintiff RCBC by resorting to public defamation, harassment and threats geared towards destroying RCBC’s good name, reputation and image,” the Philippine bank said in a statement.

The statement alleged Bangladesh Bank’s intention was to force the Philippine bank to pay it “money that RCBC does not have in its custody or possession and which it does not owe to the Bangladesh bank.”

RCBC filed the complaint on March 6 at the Makati Regional Trial Court, seeking a total of 130 million pesos in damages from the central bank.

It said the suit was served to Abu Hena Mohammad Razee Hasan, deputy governor and head of the Bangladesh bank’s financial intelligence unit, and other members of a central bank delegation that arrived in the Philippines this week.

Last month, Bangladesh Bank sued RCBC in a U.S. district court over its alleged role in the massive cyber heist.

RCBC accused Bangladesh Bank of failure to secure its network and disclose those failings on a timely basis, which opened the door for the cyber heist.

In 2016, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas fined RCBC one billion pesos for its failure to prevent the entry of stolen money in its system.

In January this year, former RCBC Bank manager Maia Deguito was convicted of money laundering for her role in the cyber heist.