Bangladesh central bank governor resigns over cyber heist

DHAKA (Reuters) - Bangladesh’s central bank governor Atiur Rahman said on Tuesday he had resigned after $81 million (57 million pounds) was stolen from the bank’s account at the New York Fed in one of the largest cyber heists in history.

Bangladesh's central bank Governor Atiur Rahman poses inside his office in Dhaka, October 2, 2013. REUTERS/Andrew Biraj

Rahman told Reuters that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had accepted his resignation.

Unknown hackers breached the computer systems of Bangladesh Bank and transferred $81 million from its account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to casinos in the Philippines between Feb. 4 and Feb. 5.

Rahman’s resignation came days after the Bangladesh finance minister said the central bank did not inform him about the heist, and that he learned of it only a month later when news first appeared in the media.

“I resigned and the prime minister accepted it,” Rahman, a widely respected banker in his second term at the bank, told Reuters. He didn’t say anything more.

The central bank said earlier that cyber criminals had tried to withdraw $951 million from its U.S. bank account but the other transactions were blocked after a typo in one of the instructions raised red flags.

More than $30 million of the money that was stolen was handed over in cash to an ethnic Chinese man in Manila, a Philippines senator looking into the suspected laundering scheme said.

The cyber heist and its global scale has left Bangladesh officials scrambling to find answers and recover the money that was lost.

The New York Fed has said its systems were not breached, and it has been working with the Bangladesh central bank since the incident occurred.

The incident has also left other banks and businesses around the world eager to learn more, so they can review their own networks for signs that they are vulnerable to similar attacks or might already have been breached.

Rahman’s main focus at the central bank was on poverty alleviation, officials said.

Additional reporting by Ruma Paul; Writing by Sanjeev Miglani; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan