A team from the Bangladesh Bank was in Manila Monday to start the process of moving some of the $81 million pilfered from its New York Federal Reserve in February back the central bank in Bangladesh, according to a report on Reuters.
In September a court in the Philippines determined that Bangladesh Bank may take possession of about $15 million that Eastern Hawaii Leisure Company casino boss, Kim Wong surrendered to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas in September. Wong initially turned over about $5 million in May.
Mr. Wong denied any wrongdoing in what turned out to be one of the world’s biggest cyber heists. The U.S. Federal Reserve Bank has been mostly quiet on the matter after initial denials when the story was first broke by the Philippine Daily Inquirer and first picked up by World Casino News on February 29 this year. The Inquirer’s scoop on the story reportedly triggered the Senate investigation that eventually identified participants in the money transfers, according to Bangladesh Ambassador John Gomes.
In a September report in the Inquirer, Gomez said he believes more money will be returned pending court actions. He told the outlet, “But more funds are in the pipeline,” Gomes said, referring to some $38.3 million more identified as being part of the funds stolen in the theft. At that time the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) was holding $2.3 million, there was also another $7 million due from Eastern Hawaii Leisure, according to the Inquirer and, “$29 million that went to Solaire,” he said.
“The writ of execution that the money be handed back to Bangladesh has already been done by the court,” said Gomes. “The good thing is now that the process on this $15 million is more or less completed, we will go for the rest.”
The Ambassador reportedly visited a secure vault at the Philippine central bank last week to attend a count of the money.
In February unknown criminals sent fraudulent messages to the New York Federal Reserve on the SWIFT bank exchange system, requesting as much as $1 billion from the Bangladesh Bank account. Most of those transfers were blocked. $81 million was released and much of the money appeared in casinos in the Philippines. Since then the country has embarked on Anti-Money Laundering reforms that will now reach into casino finances for the first time.