Bangladesh Central Bank Heist Update: US$15m of Stolen Funds Will Be Returned

Quite a few people will remember the Bangladesh heist, which took place a few months ago. During this attack against a Swift-connected bank, roughly US$81m was stolen by cyber criminals. It looks as if part of the stolen funds will be returned to their rightful owners, as a Philippine court ordered the return of US$15m. Said funds somehow ended up in the bank account of a casino boss.

A Silver Lining For The Bangladesh Heist Victims

It has been a while since we last received an update related to the Bangladesh bank heist. Despite the theft of US$81m, there seemed very little trace of the missing money, although investigation uncovered that casino boss Kim Wong returned a portion of the funds to the authorities without explanation.

In fact, he returned US$4.63m in US Dollars, and over 488 million pesos to the authorities earlier this week. However, he denied being involved in the Bangladesh cyber heist itself, and had no idea why the funds are related to the crime. He did state how the money allegedly belongs to two Chinese gamblers with plenty of capital, although no names were made public.

Once the news related to the returned funds was made public, a Philippine court ordered the recovered money to be returned to the Bangladesh central bank. While it is good to see part of the stolen money recovered, the bigger question is where the remaining US$66m was sent, or how it was used. For now, that remains a mystery to all parties involved.

Using casinos to launder money is not a new trick by any means. Criminals have been using this method for quite some time now, even when they used to rob banks, and exchange the funds for casino chips straight after. In this day and age of digital banking, such fund transfers have become increasingly easy, as there is no physical involvement required.

Losing such a big amount of money without finding a trace is virtually impossible. Either the hackers did their job incredibly well –which is doubtful, as there are always digital breadcrumbs–or it was an inside job, allowing the thieves to remove all fraudulent transactions from existence.

Once again, this goes to show that there is a dire need for a more transparent financial ecosystem. Banks are actively exploring blockchain technology for it transparency traits, yet it remains to be seen how these new platforms will behave once they go live. Transparency is direly needed, but it is not easy to implement in a system where privacy is an equally valuable commodity.

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