Near-perfect heist

Last Friday, the Makati Regional Trial Court dismissed for lack of jurisdiction the defamation complaint that the Yuchengco group’s Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) filed against Bangladesh Bank (BB) seeking P100 million in compensation.

It was the latest twist in the cinematic $81-million heist on the Bangladesh central bank, which was allegedly executed by North Korean hackers in 2016.

An exhaustive British Broadcasting Corp. investigation on the bold online theft indicated that the hackers targeted to dry up BB by taking $951 million in an account of the bank with the Federal Reserve Bank in New York.

The BBC report said the attack happened between 4 to 7 February 2016. The timing was carefully planned to take advantage of the time difference between Dhaka and New York City, and working hours in both cities, with also a weekend on different days falling on the date of the heist.

“By exploiting time differences between Bangladesh, New York and the Philippines, the hackers had engineered a clear five-day run to get the money away,” the report revealed.

RCBC was used as conduit for the raid on the Fed account through an intricate operation that BBC said nearly succeeded.

The hackers, whom American investigators traced to North Korea, used fraudulent orders on the international SWIFT payments system. The hackers used a Federal Reserve Bank account in New York and successfully managed to steal $81 million that was transferred to accounts at the Manila-based RCBC.

Now comes RCBC’s complaint against BB, but which the Makati court dismissed, saying it has no authority over the “foreign public corporation not doing business in the Philippines.”

Complete departure

The Makati tribunal said there was no provision, both in the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure and the 2019 Rules of Procedure, for summoning the Bank of Bangladesh.

“The foregoing discussions inescapably lead to the conclusion that this court has no jurisdiction over the person of the defendant (Bangladesh Bank), nor will it ever have within the limits of the provisions of the present rules as regards summons and the service thereof,” the court said.

RCBC, in its suit, accused BB of engineering a “massive ploy and scheme to extort money from plaintiff RCBC by resorting to public defamation, harassment and threats geared toward destroying RCBC’s good name, reputation and image.”

RCBC issued a report to the Stock Exchange in which it seems to inject doubt on the court ruling.

“Despite its earlier orders declaring that it has jurisdiction, the court decided to dismiss the case on the ground that it has not acquired personal jurisdiction over Bangladesh Bank, a complete departure from its earlier pronouncements,” RCBC indicated.

RCBC said it has filed a motion for reconsideration to question the “irregular decision.”

“Accordingly, the Order is not yet final and we are prepared to pursue the same before the appeals court as necessary,” the bank said.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *