Beijing rejects link of Chinese citizens to Bangladesh Bank heist

The suggestion was "complete nonsense" and "really irresponsible," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang told reporters on Wednesday.

The reaction came the same day Filipino Senator Ralph Recto said that Chinese hackers were likely to have pulled off the one of the world's biggest cyber heists.

Recto told Reuters in a telephone interview, "The hacking was done, chances are, by Chinese hackers... Then they saw that, in the Philippines, RCBC was particularly vulnerable and they sent the money over here."

Unidentified hackers tried to transfer a total of $951 million from Bangladesh Bank account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in early February.

All but one of the 35 attempted transfers were to the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp (RCBC), confirming the Philippines' centrality to the heist.

Most transfers were blocked, but a total of $81 million went to four accounts at a single RCBC branch in Manila. The stolen money was swiftly transferred to a foreign exchange broker and distributed to casinos and gambling agents in Manila.

Recto said he couldn't prove the hackers were Chinese, but was merely "connecting the dots" after a series of Senate hearings into the scandal.

At one hearing, Chinese casino boss and junket operator Kim Wong named two high-rolling gamblers from Beijing and Macau who he said had brought the stolen money into the Philippines.

He displayed purported copies of their passports, showing they were mainland Chinese and Macau administrative region nationals respectively.

Wong, a native of Hong Kong who holds a Chinese passport, received almost $35 million of the stolen funds through his company and a foreign exchange broker.

The two Chinese named by Wong "are the best lead to determine who the hackers are," said Recto. "Chances are... they must be Chinese."

The whereabouts of the two high-rollers were unknown, Recto added, saying the Senate inquiry "may" seek help from the Chinese government to find them.

Recto also questioned the role of casino junket operators in the Philippines, saying many of them have links in Macau, the southern Chinese territory that is the world's biggest casino hub.

"There are junket operators who are from Macau, so it (the money) may find its way back to Macau," he said.

Source: BD News24

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