SWIFT says helping Bangladesh Bank rebuild network after cyber heist

Some 250 foreign central banks and governments keep more than $3 trillion of their assets at the New York Federal Reserve Bank. (Reuters)
Updated 03 February 2019
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SWIFT says helping Bangladesh Bank rebuild network after cyber heist

NEW DELHI: International payments network SWIFT said on Saturday it had signed an agreement with Bangladesh's central bank to help it rebuild its infrastructure after hackers used it to steal $81 million in 2016 in the world's biggest cyber heist.
Unidentified hackers, suspected to be from North Korea, carried out the heist by breaching Bangladesh Bank's systems and using the SWIFT network to send fraudulent money transfer orders to the New York branch of the U.S. central bank, with which the Dhaka bank has an account.
SWIFT's comments came after the New York Fed on Friday agreed to provide "technical assistance" to Bangladesh Bank in its lawsuit against Manila-based Rizal Commercial Banking Corp (RCBC). RCBC was used to funnel the money, much of which disappeared into the casinos of the Philippines.
RCBC has called the legal action Bangladesh Bank filed on Thursday as beyond the U.S. jurisdiction, "completely baseless" and "nothing more than a thinly veiled PR campaign" to shift blame from itself.
"SWIFT, the New York Fed and Bangladesh Bank have worked together since the cyber fraud event occurred ... to recover the entire proceeds of the crime and to bring the perpetrators to justice in cooperation with law enforcement from other jurisdictions," SWIFT said in a statement to Reuters.
The firm would continue to lend its support to international efforts to protect the global financial system from future cyber attacks, it added.
SWIFT - the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, a cooperative used by thousands of financial institutions around the world - did not say if it would also help Bangladesh Bank with the court case in New York.
A person familiar with the technical assistance agreement said the Fed would prepare affidavits and clear employees to testify at hearings or a trial, and also allow Bangladesh Bank to interview employees. It would also provide relevant non-privileged documents and information to Bangladesh Bank or to the court.
Bangladesh Bank lawyer Ajmalul Hossain QC declined to comment on SWIFT's role in the legal case against RCBC.
In its suit filed with the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, Bangladesh Bank accused RCBC and dozens of others, including several top executives, of involvement in a "massive" and "intricately planned" multi-year conspiracy to steal its money.
A 2016 Reuters investigation https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/cyber-heist-federal into the heist found that a series of missteps and miscommunication between the Fed and Bangladesh, little emergency backup, and slow reactions in New York to early warning signs all contributed.


Abu Dhabi aims to lure start-ups with investment in new technology hub

Updated 24 March 2019
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Abu Dhabi aims to lure start-ups with investment in new technology hub

  • The initiative will help Abu Dhabi reduce reliance on oil
  • Mubadala hopes to attract Chinese and Indian companies

ABU DHABI: Abu Dhabi will commit up to $272 million to support technology start-ups, it said on Sunday, in a dedicated hub as part of efforts to diversify its economy.

US tech giant Microsoft will be a strategic partner, providing technology and cloud services to the businesses that join the hub as the capital of the United Arab Emirates continues its push to reduce reliance on oil revenue.
Abu Dhabi derives about 50 percent of its real gross domestic product and about 90 percent of central government revenue from the hydrocarbon sector, according to ratings agency S&P.
The emirate launched a $13.6 billion stimulus fund, Ghadan 21, in September last year to accelerate economic growth. Ghadan means tomorrow in Arabic. The new initiative, named Hub 71, is linked to Ghadan will also involve the launch of a $136 million fund to invest in start-ups, said Ibrahim Ajami, head of Mubadala Ventures, the technology arm of Mubadala Investment Co.
The goal is to have 100 companies over the next three to five years, Ajami said. “The market opportunities in this region are immense,” he added.
Mubadala, with assets of $225 billion and a big investor in tech companies, will act as the driver of the hub, located in the emirate’s financial district.
Softbank will be active in the hub and support the expansion of companies in which it has invested, Ajami said, adding that Mubadala is also aiming to attract Chinese and Indian companies, among others.
Mubadala which has committed $15 billion to the Softbank Vision Fund, plans to launch a $400 million fund to invest in leading European technology companies.
Incentives mapped out by the government include housing, office space and health insurance as part of the $272 million commitment, Ajami said.
Abu Dhabi will also announce a new research and development initiative on Monday linked to the Ghadan 21 plan, according to an invitation sent to journalists.