Criminal Investigation Department and Bangladesh Bank were on Sunday asked to expedite the process to help the government file a criminal case against Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation of the Philippines as soon as possible to recover the stolen reserve fund, officials said.
A special review meeting, presided over by AMA Muhith at the secretariat, gave the directives so that the country could file the case with a New York court against the Pilipino bank by the deadline that would expire in February 2019, they said.
Muhith said he was expecting to file the much needed case in April.
The current diplomatic efforts, launched in February 2016 by Bangladesh Bank after detection of unprecedented reserve heist from its accounts in Federal Reserve, the US central bank, helped the recovery of $15 million from Manila until now.
Bangladesh Bank needs to file the criminal case as Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation, where the money was transferred and then quickly withdrawn and laundered through local casinos, has refused to return the remaining $66 million.
Talking to reporters after the meeting, Muhith said the CID probing the reserve theft since March 2016 was asked to submit the report as soon as possible.
Officials attending the meeting said that as the CID sought more time to give the final report, Bangladesh Bank was asked to seek ‘an interim report from the CID through a court order.
It was imperative for the government to submit the CID probe report for filing the case, they said.
Muhith said Bangladesh Bank was also asked to negotiate with the Federal Reserve and agree its officials to back the country’s legal battle.
He informed that the Fed had already expressed inability to be a Bangladesh Bank’s party on ground legal complexity.
Replaying to a query, he said they would appoint a US-based law firm to run the case.
The meeting, attended, among others, by law minister Anisul Huq, home minister Asaduzzaman Khan and central bank governor Fazle Kabir and the CID officials, stressed the need for examining the capacity of law firms before appointing any.
Most of the officials attending the meeting spoke against appointment of the law firm as penal lawyers.
They noted that the law firm should be appointed on a contractual basis and would be given certain percentage of the stolen fund as consultancy fees if the law firm could recover it by winning the legal battle.
The meeting also discussed the warning given by Rizal Commercial Banking Corp recently saying that they were considering a lawsuit against Bangladesh Bank for alleging that it had a hand in the heist.
Besides being fined $21 million by the authorities in the Philippines for alleged role in the theft, Rizal Bank is also facing money laundering charges in Philippines.
However, Rizal Bank officials stated that the cyber heist was an ‘inside job’ and the Philippine bank was being used as a scapegoat to hide the real culprits.
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