Bangladesh central bank chief resigns after $101 million bank heist

Central Bank Chief Atiur Rahman resigns

Bangladesh central bank chief Atiur Rahman submitted his resignation on Tuesday amid tension over the theft of $101 million from the nation’s foreign reserves. A.F.M. Asaduzzaman, a spokesman at Bangladesh Bank, confirmed Rahman’s resignation.

Rahman’s decision came amid escalating tensions between himself and Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith. Bloomberg reports that Muhith called the central bank’s handling of the theft “very incompetent.”

In a statement to Bloomberg on Tuesday, Rahman stated, “If it’s my fault, they can take action against me, against Bangladesh Bank. But they cannot insult me in public.”

The cyberheist happened over the weekend and awakened fears around the globe to the threat posed by hackers. A letter by the U.K. central bank reported that the Bank of England faces “advanced, persistent” cyber threats.

Bank robbers made five transfers out of Bangladesh Bank’s account at the New York Fed in February. The bank allowed the transfers because the request appeared to come from a Bangladesh server. The thieves also had the correct bank codes to authenticate the transfers.

While officials in Bangladesh suggested hackers were to blame, the New York Fed maintains its servers were not hacked. It isn’t clear how the thieves obtained the correct bank codes. CNN Money notes that the central bank is optimistic about recovering all the missing funds.

Victor Keon, a partner at consultant Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd. in Singapore, noted that the country should be “very concerned” about the risk of another attack. Keong added, “It is quite shocking. If a central bank can have such lapses — and it is the regulator — then those it regulates might not be so well protected.”

Atiur Rahman spoke with Bloomberg News last year about the central bank of Bangladesh, saying, “We have embarked on an era of new central banking which has got a distinct development focus.”

A spokesman for Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina stated that Atiur Rahman’s resignation was accepted on Tuesday and former finance minister Fazle Kabir will take his place as central bank chief.