Chinese Man in Philippines Makes Millions from Cyber Heist

An ethnic Chinese man in Manila, Philippines is said to have gathered over $30 million of the money that hackers stole in one of the biggest cyber heists of all time when the Bangladesh central bank’s account at the New York Fed was hacked recently.

The cyber heist which saw the Bangladesh central bank lose nearly $100 million is understandably making international headlines. Banks and financial institutions, as well as governments are keeping a keen eye on investigations into the hacking and money laundering scheme.

Now, a senator from the Philippines has revealed that an ethnic Chinese man took deliveries of nearly $30 million in cash, over several days from a foreign exchange broker. The deliveries were made in 600 million Philippine pesos ($12.87 million) as well as $18 million in USD, which makes a massive total of at least 780,000 banknotes, Reuters reported.

The head of the Philippine Senate’s anti-corruption committee revealed some insights about the money trail to the news outlet.

“Obviously, this is not one bang, it was done in installments,” stated Teofisto Guingona.

Altogether, the hackers tried to withdraw about $951 million from the account. However, a typo found in one of the wire requests raised red flags had authorities foil the crime, even though nearly $100 million was already stolen.

Related read: Bangladesh Bank: Hackers Tried to Steal $951 Million from US Fed Account

Bank officials in Bangladesh suspect that the wired money was transferred to the Philippines in four tranches, before they were diverted to local casinos. Some officials also believe the money may have ended up in Hong Kong.

The Rizal Commercial Banking Corp (RCBC) in the Philippines has revealed that it is investigating a deposit, for $81 million, at one of its branches. All the transfers into RCBC were brought together into one account before some of the money was converted to pesos.

Guingona revealed that CCTC cameras at the branch weren’t operating when money was withdrawn. However, investigations have revealed that the money went via a foreign exchange to the Chinese man as well as two ethnic casinos. That’s where the money trail ends.

“The paper trail ends there,” Guingona stated. “That is the problem. Right now, we are at a dead end.”

Casinos in the Philippines are not covered by the country’s anti-money laundering laws, which leaves room to the possibility that the stolen funds may not be fully recovered.