China denies claims that its hackers stole $138m
CHINA'S cybersecurity circle has denied Philippine media reports that Chinese hackers stole nearly US$100 million (S$138 million) from a deposit that Bangladesh's central bank placed with the Federal Reserve Bank (Fed) of New York.
"The tales about Chinese hackers have grown increasingly sensational," Qin An, deputy president of the official publication China Information Security, told the state-owned Global Times this week.
"Previously, it was alleged that Chinese hackers stole intellectual properties, patented inventions and trade secrets. Now, the claim has expanded to include a fabulous sum of money," he added.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer reported on Wednesday that two officials from the Bangladesh Bank (BB) had recently visited Manila to demand the return of funds stolen by China-based hackers from the accounts of their central bank in the United States Federal Reserve.
The Inquirer earlier reported that US$81 million had been leaked into the Philippines' banking system, then transferred to local casinos and moved out to accounts in Hong Kong.
Another US$870 million was prevented from being moved to a Philippine bank after international banks, which had cleared and remitted the money to Manila, called a stop to the flow after deciding that its source was murky.
BB said this week it had retrieved US$20 million of the money hacked from its Fed account from Sri Lanka where it had surfaced.
But the bank did not disclose the total sum stolen, reported Bangladesh's Financial Express (FE), which said it could amount to US$100 million.
The rest of the money, believed to have ended up in the Philippines, is yet to be returned, said FE.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh's Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith said the New York Fed was liable for BB's account being hacked and Dhaka is considering filing a lawsuit against it.
In response, New York Fed this week said "there is no evidence of any attempt to penetrate Federal Reserve systems in connection with the payments in question, and there is no evidence that any Fed systems were compromised", Reuters reported.
Some 250 central banks, governments and other institutions have foreign accounts at the New York Fed.
Some sources told Bangladesh's FE that the hacking could have been executed by way of BB, whose system is more lax.
Bangladesh's foreign currency reserve reportedly stands at about US$27 billion.
According to a website called American Banker, a group comprised of Russian and Chinese hackers has stolen about US$1 billion from banks worldwide since 2013.
The group uses sophisticated software to intrude into banks to access their bank transfer and ATM systems as well as customer accounts, said the website.