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Bangladesh Bank heist needs parliamentary hearing: Dr Debapriya

Discussion on recent issue of Bangladesh Bank heist emerged from a Q&A session at CPD media briefing on Recommendations for the National Budget FY2016-17at the CIRDAP Auditorium, Dhaka, on Sunday, 17 April 2016. It was discussed that proper coordination and necessary measures needed for our national economic system to attain projected growth.

View more news reports on the event

Published in The Daily Star on Monday, 18 April 2016

CPD for open hearing on Bangladesh central bank reserve heist

Staff Correspondent

The Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) has called for an open hearing on the Bangladesh Bank’s reserve heist saying that the theft had not been discussed publicly at the state level.

“The Philippines parliament held an open hearing. Where is our standing committee on finance?” said CPD Distinguished Fellow Debapriya Bhattacharya at the Cirdap in Dhaka yesterday.

“Our parliamentary standing committee has not called for a meeting! It has not included it in the agenda and discussed,” he said, while speaking at a press conference where the think-tank presented its recommendations for the upcoming budget.

Replying to queries, the economist said the reserve heist, the first reserve theft faced by any central bank in the world, prompted debate outside the country but in Bangladesh, despite it being a democracy, the matter was not discussed publicly at the highest level.

“I don’t know whether the finance minister included the issue in the agenda for the cabinet meeting and informed the prime minister and other ministers.”

The heist, which took place on February 4, came to light after a Filipino media outlet published a report at the end of that month.

“People got to know it from the foreign media. Most information came from the open hearing held at the Philippines Senate,” Debapriya said.

“The Philippines parliament discussed this matter. We have parliamentary democracy. Why the matter was not discussed in the Jatiya Sangsad?”

He said when the parliament goes into the budget session the matter should be discussed separately in the House.

“The incident has opened a scope for pondering whether there is any inconsistency in the overall governance system or economic management.”

The economist said the BB heist incident uncovered serious lack of coordination in economic management and confusion in leadership.

“The way the finance minister spoke and the central bank and the National Board of Revenue behaved, it showed this lack of coordination.”

However, Debapriya said the amount of money that had been stolen did not seem to stir the economy. “Much bigger amount was stolen through Hall-Mark or Bismillah Group scams.”

Debapriya said the amount is not an issue. “The qualitative weight of the incident is to be taken into consideration.”

The way the money has been laundered has added a new dimension to the irregularity and misappropriation of money in Bangladesh’s economy, he said.

“The incident has directly brought forward the risks in a technology-based globalised economy.”

He refrained from making any further comments, as investigation into the issue was underway and a case had been filed.

By hacking the central bank reserve account with the New York Fed, the criminals stole $81 million or around Tk 800 crore which ended up in four accounts of a Filipino bank.


Published in The Financial Express on Monday, 18 April 2016

CPD for open parliamentary hearing on BB reserve heist

FE Report

The Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) called for an open parliamentary hearing over the Bangladesh Bank’s Fed account heist that cost the country US$81 million. Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya, distinguished fellow of the local policy think-tank, voiced the demand Sunday at a press meet where they put forward suggestions on next national budget formulation.    According to the central bank’s belated disclosure, US$101 million was stolen from the BB account with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York on February 4. The lion’s share of the booty landed on Philippine gambling boards while $20 million went into a bank in Sri Lanka. The Lankan portion of the booty was soon recovered.  “When the Philippine Senate, the US Fed are organising open hearings on an issue of Bangladesh Bank, why the Bangladeshi parliament should remain silent?” He questioned. The senior policy researcher said the parliamentary standing committee on finance ministry or the cabinet should hold an open hearing over the Bangladesh Bank’s reserve heist. The CPD arranged programme to place its budget recommendations for the financial year 2016-17 (FY’17) at CIRDAP in the city.    He said there was a lack of close coordination among government organisations on the BB heist issue. The development economist said a ‘Commission for Financial Sector Reform’ is now a demand of the time following recent financial scams, particularly concerning the NCBs, rising NPL (non performing loans), quality of outstanding loans and declining profitability. These are some major concerns in the banking sector at present. He viewed that the central  bank  cyber-heist,  ATM  fraud  added  a  new  dimension  to  financial- sector governance.


Published in The Independent on Monday, 18 April 2016

CPD wants hearing on BB heist

Staff Correspondent

Distinguished fellow of the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya on Sunday suggested the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance Ministry to arrange an open hearing over the Bangladesh Bank’s fund heist.

“Philippines’ parliament held an open hearing (over the issue). Where’s our parliamentary standing committee on finance? Why didn’t the committee convene a meeting? Why our parliament didn’t get any chance to discuss it when the Philippines’ parliament is discussing the Bangladesh issue?” he said addressing a press briefing in the city.

The CPD, a civil society think tank, arranged the briefing at Cirdap auditorium for putting forward its recommendations for the upcoming (2016-’17) national budget.

Dr Debapriya said there is lack of coordination in the financial management of Bangladesh. “The institutional framework is not effective right now, which was exposed through remarks of the Finance Minister and behaviours of the central bank (after the scam)… a confusing situation is now prevailing in the leadership of the financial sector,” he said.

People first came to know about the issue from foreign newspapers, public hearings of the Philippines Federal Reserve of the USA, the Swift of Switzerland, and Sri Lankan bank, Debapriya said.

“I don’t know whether the issue has been discussed in our cabinet. If anyone knows, please inform me,” he said.

About the impact of the US$101 million fund heist from the Bangladesh Bank, he said this amount of money would not create any chaos in the country’s economy as Hallmark and Bismilla Group each has taken away the larger amount.

He, however, said the concern is not about the size, but about the safety and sustainability of the financial sector as the heist exposed how technology-based risks Bangladesh is facing.

On February 4, hackers stole US$101 million from the Bangladesh Bank’s account with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

CPD Executive Director Prof Mustafizur Rahman and its Additional Research Director Dr Khondaker Golam Moazzem also spoke at the function, while its research fellow Towfiqul Islam Khan placed the recommendations for the upcoming national budget. UNB




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