Part of the $81 Million stolen from Bangladesh bank’s New York Federal Reserve account earlier this year in the wake of the major malware attack on the SWIFT interbank transfer network has been tracked down to a casino in the Philippines.
SWIFT, or Society for Worldwide Interbank Telecommunication, is a global financial messaging system that thousands of banks and organizations around the world use to transfer billions of dollars every day.
In February, hackers dropped a piece of malware on a SWIFT terminal employed by Bangladesh’s central bank, obtained credentials needed for payment transfers from the New York Federal Reserve Bank, and then transferred large amount to fraudulent accounts based in the Philippines and Sri Lanka.
In March, the investigation revealed that the stolen money was then sold to a black market foreign exchange broker and later transferred to at least 3 local casinos in the Philippines.
In September, Philippine court ordered the return of $15 Million surrendered by a junket operator at Solaire Resort & Casino to Bangladesh Bank, reports Reuters.
On Monday, a team of Bangladesh central bank arrived in Manila to take back its $15 Million of the $81 Million stolen funds surrendered by Chinese-born Kim Sin Wong, casino’s junket operator of Eastern Hawaii Leisure Company.
Wong, who returned $4.63 Million and 488.28 Million pesos (around $10.05 Million) to Philippine authorities, said the stolen money came from two Chinese high-rollers, Gao Shu Hua from Beijing and Ding Zhi Ze from Macau.
However, Wong denied any role in one of the world’s biggest bank heists.
The recovered $15 Million amount is now secure in the vaults of the Philippine central bank, said Bangladesh’s Ambassador to the Philippines John Gomes, adding that there’s more to come.
"The writ of execution that the money be handed back to Bangladesh has already been done by the court," Gomes told Reuters. "The good thing is now that the process on this $15 Million is more or less completed, we will go for the rest."
Bangladesh was not the first bank which became the victim of SWIFT malware. This year, some unknown hackers targeted banks across the world by gaining access to SWIFT that is being used to transfer Billions of dollars every day.
Investigators also revealed that the malware used in the Bangladesh cyber heist was almost identical to one used to infiltrate banks in Ecuador, Vietnam, and the Philippines.