A Bangladeshi cyber security expert has gone missing, his family said on Friday (March 18), days after he said officials at the central bank bore some responsibility for an $81 million theft from its foreign exchange account.
Hackers stole the money from the Bangladesh Bank’s account with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York on February 5 and managed to transfer it electronically to accounts in the Philippines.
IT expert Tanvir Hassan Zoha, who said he was helping the government investigate the crime, told a local TV station last week that “apathy” over security at Bangladesh Bank had contributed to the audacious theft.
Zoha has not been seen since Wednesday (March 16) night when he was picked up on his way home from work in the capital Dhaka, his wife Kamrun Nahar said, citing a friend who was with him.
“Several men in plainclothes stopped their auto-rickshaw and put them in two different vehicles. Later they dropped Yamir (Zoha’s friend) on a road blindfolded but took Zoha with them,” Nahar told reporters.
“We’ve not heard anything from him since then,” the wife said, saying police had not filed a case on her husband’s disappearance.
The heist has hugely embarrassed the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and raised alarm over the security of the country’s foreign exchange reserves of over $27 billion.
The central bank governor and his two deputies lost their jobs following the theft and the government has been scrambling to contain the damage from the spiralling scandal.
Zoha, 34, told Ekattor TV station on March 11 that “the database administrator of the (Bangladesh Bank) server cannot avoid responsibility for such hacking”.
The government committee probing the case had “noticed apathy about the security system (of the server)” he said.
Authorities have denied that Zoha was working with them on investigating the case.
Police have yet to make any comment on Zoha’s disappearance.