Posted on: June 1, 2023, 10:56h.
Last updated on: June 1, 2023, 11:09h.
Bloomberry Resorts and the company’s flagship casino resort, Solaire in the Philippines capital of Manila, have been cleared for their alleged roles in the 2016 Bangladesh Bank heist that saw hackers from North Korea steal $81 million.
In February 2016, a series of withdrawals were initiated from the Bangladesh Bank account held at the Federal Reserve in New York City’s Manhattan. Nearly $1 billion was scheduled to be withdrawn through 35 transactions from the South Asia country’s US bank account.
After $81 million was successfully transferred to the Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) in the Philippines, regulators at the Federal Reserve halted further transactions after noticing one of the withdrawal requests was for an entity called the “Shalika Fandation.” Seeing the incorrect spelling of “foundation,” US officials got in touch with Bangladesh government authorities who said the withdrawal requests didn’t come from Dhaka and were illegitimate.
It was too late for the $81 million, as hackers, later linked to operatives in North Korea, successfully received the money through an RCBC account and laundered the funds through an array of entities, with one being Bloomberry’s Solaire casino.
Bangladesh continues to seek the recovery of its $81 million more than seven years after the February 2016 hacking took place.
The country has an ongoing lawsuit against RCBC on allegations that the bank failed to know their customer in allowing the ill-gotten money to be withdrawn. The New York Supreme Court ruled in January that it has jurisdiction over the matter and allowed the Bangladesh Bank’s lawsuit to proceed.
In separate litigation, the Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court upheld the court’s April 2022 ruling that determined it cannot hear Bangladesh’s argument as to why Bloomberry Resorts should also be held culpable for the theft. New York’s highest court ruled that it lacks jurisdiction over Bloomberry because the company operates in the Philippines and had no involvement in the international facilitation of the Bangladesh Bank money movement.
Bloomberry’s attorneys said the company did nothing wrong, and that Solaire was also a victim in the heist.
Why Countries Have Fed Reserve Accounts
Despite the $81 million heist that was carried out by North Korean hackers, the US Federal Reserve is considered one of the safest and most secure banking institutions in the world. Though information regarding the bank’s holdings is typically confidential, Reuters in 2017 reported that some 250 foreign central banks and governments keep more than $3.3 trillion of their assets at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
The US Federal Reserve says it holds about half of the world’s dollar reserves. The purpose of establishing a reserve in the US allows foreign countries to more easily deposit, maintain, and transfer foreign currency around the world.
In 2019, the Bangladeshi government reported having about $39 billion in foreign currency reserves. Though Bangladesh is a small country, its 170 million residents rank eighth as the most populated nation in the world, putting it ahead of Russia, Mexico, Japan, the Philippines, Germany, France, and the UK.
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