Bangladesh central bank governor resigns over $100 million cyber theft

DHAKA: The governor of central bank of Bangladesh Atiur Rehman resigned on Tuesday after cyber hackers allegedly stole $101 million of government money from a US account and he failed to inform the finance minister about the massive cyber-heist.

The audacious cyber-theft has embarrassed the government, triggered outrage in the impoverished country and raised alarm over the security of the country’s foreign exchange reserves of over $27 billion.

Atiur Rahman said Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh’s prime minister, had accepted his offer to resign, which he had said earlier was tendered “for the sake of my country”.

Preliminary investigations suggest that hackers accessed Bangladesh Bank’s computer systems and stole key information in order to pull off the brazen electronic theft.

Cyber thieves are believed to have deployed computer malware in their attempt to clone authorisation codes and transfer a total of about $1bn from Bangladesh Bank’s account with the New York Federal Reserve in early February.

The US Federal Reserve Bank in New York transferred $81m from Bangladesh’s bank account on February 4 into the accounts of four men in the Philippines, after receiving what appeared to be legitimate transfer orders.

The transfer of another $20m to a Sri Lankan bank was stopped after a routing bank became suspicious of a spelling mistake and sought clarification from Bangladesh Bank, officials said.

“I am very unhappy about the handling of the matter by Bangladesh Bank – very incompetent,” Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith said on Sunday.

The government has appointed Fazley Kabir, chairman of state-owned Sonali Bank and a former finance secretary, as the new central bank governor, according to local media reports.