Resigned Bangladesh central bank governor takes "moral responsibility" over cyber heist

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DHAKA (Reuters) — Bangladesh's central bank governor Atiur Rahman said on Tuesday (March 15) he had resigned after $81 million (57 million pounds) was stolen from the bank's account at the New York Fed in one of the largest cyber heists in history.

Rahman told Reuters that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had accepted his resignation.

Related: What we know so far on PH money laundering probe

Unknown hackers breached the computer systems of Bangladesh Bank and transferred $81 million from its account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to casinos in the Philippines between February 4 and February 5.

Rahman's resignation came days after the Bangladesh finance minister said the central bank did not inform him about the heist, and that he learned of it only a month later when news first appeared in the media.

"I thought, to protect the image of the bank, I resigned voluntarily to take a much higher moral ground, there are not many examples of that in the country, to really take the responsibility, morally, and then resign," Rahman said to media at his home.

The cyber heist and its global scale has left Bangladesh officials scrambling to find answers and recover the money that was lost.

The New York Fed has said its systems were not breached, and it has been working with the Bangladesh central bank since the incident occurred.

The incident has also left other banks and businesses around the world eager to learn more, so they can review their own networks for signs that they are vulnerable to similar attacks or might already have been breached.

Rahman called the heist "as bad as terrorist attacks."

"All central banks and banks should be very careful about cyber attacks. This is as bad as terrorist attacks, so we should be, all the central banks in the world, and all the banks should raise their firewalls, they should be very careful about it," he said.

The central bank said earlier that cyber criminals had tried to withdraw $951 million from its U.S. bank account but the other transactions were blocked after a typo in one of the instructions raised red flags.

More than $30 million of the money that was stolen was handed over in cash to an ethnic Chinese man in Manila, a Philippines senator looking into the suspected laundering scheme said.