BB to appoint consultant to beef up security

Bangladesh Bank (BB) has decided to appoint a permanent consultant to oversee its IT and overall security measures, a senior official said.

“We are now working on hiring the consultant, who will be employed under an annual contract,” the official told The Daily Star, wishing not to be named.

The BB took the decision after it lost $101 million to cyber thieves from its foreign currency bbreserve account with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York on February 5. The money was wired to the Philippines and Sri Lanka.

At the request of the BB, Pan Asia Banking Corporation of Sri Lanka cancelled the payment of $20 million to its ultimate beneficiary. But the $81 million that entered the Philippines’ banking system was credited to the beneficiary accounts with Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation and eventually withdrawn.

The heist rattled not only the BB and its security system but also the country’s entire banking system. “The level of efficiency and IT knowledge of the BB officials, which is in question after the heist, has led to the decision to hire a consultant,” said the official.

Preference will be given to Bangladeshi IT experts who are working abroad, he added.

The BB has employed some people, including the chief economic adviser, economic adviser and chief economist, on a contractual basis. The IT and security consultant will have a similar contract.

Subhankar Saha, spokesman for the BB, said he is not aware of the decision to hire an IT consultant. The central bank already has an IT governance specialist, he added.

Meanwhile, at a press meet at the BB, Saha claimed progress was made in the investigations. The Philippine government and its anti-money laundering council have acted promptly and put the accused persons on trial upon BB’s requests.

In response to a query on checking the laptops of all BB officials, he said it is being done as part of its move to strengthen security measures in the central bank’s affairs.