Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The RCBC/Bangladesh Bank Heist scandal is much bigger than anyone realizes

The conspiracy's choice of countries – Bangladesh, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka – is not surprising. All three countries have a large volume of cross-border financial transactions in the form of remittances, and all three countries are accustomed to moving large individual transactions in the form of development funds and loan receipts and payments. All three also have a reputation for being rather porous in terms of defenses against money-laundering.

Some have expressed surprise that the thieves would target a "poor" country like Bangladesh, but because of remittances – about $15.8 billion in 2015 – and export receipts from its garment industry, Bangladesh actually has large foreign reserves, about $28 billion. The Philippines, with about $81 billion in foreign reserves, would be a much more tempting target, but compared with Bangladesh, whose central bank has had a number of corruption and technical problems throughout the years, Philippine reserves are generally perceived as being more secure. Sri Lanka's central bank, which has made a number of improvements since the end of that country's civil war, probably falls somewhere between the other two in terms of its perceived security.

Investigators should consider the commonalities among all three countries, because it is obvious that the conspiracy, whatever it is, has actors in all three places.



Also on Sunday, the wife of a cyber crime expert reported he had disappeared after being abducted from a motor rickshaw in the early hours of last Thursday. He had met police on Tuesday and told the media he knew three user IDs used for the heist.
According to his wife, cyber crime expert Tanveer Hassan Zoha was blindfolded by unknown people in plainclothes early on Thursday before being taken away in a vehicle.


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