US$ 80 million bank heist forces governor’s resigantion
by Sumon Corraya

Hackers use malware to steal from Bangladesh’s account with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. US$ 1bn could have been stolen had it not been for a misspelled word. Finance minister expresses anger for not being informed.

Dhaka (AsiaNews) – The head of Bangladesh Bank, Bangladesh's central bank, Atiur Rahman, has resigned after cyber-thieves stole more than US$ 80 million out of a planned a billion dollar heist.

The governor offered his resignation to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for her consideration. Deputy Governor Abul Kashem was appointed acting governor.

The theft took place on 4 February, but was only made public a few days ago. Using malware, hackers accessed the central bank’s account with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and issued transfer orders to wire the money to bank accounts in the Philippines.

After the first transfers went through, the sheer number of transactions and a spelling mistake helped alert bank staff to the theft. Bangladesh’s central bank was informed, and stopped the transaction.

After the incident became public, Rahman came in for major criticism for keeping it secret for more than a month.

Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith also lashed out against the governor for not informing him right away, saying that he had no knowledge of what had happened a month earlier. He also announced that the government would take important steps.

Rahman told reporters on Tuesday that he had written his letter of resignation. "I will be waiting for a directive from the prime minister,” he noted, and “I will do anything and everything possible for the country,” adding, "If my resignation is better for the Bangladesh Bank, I have no hesitation."