The heist of $81 million from the Bangladesh central bank’s account at the New York Federal Reserve last year was “state-sponsored,” an FBI officer in the Philippines, who has been involved in the investigations, said on Wednesday. Lamont Siller, the legal attache at the US embassy, did not elaborate but his comments in a speech in Manila are a strong signal that authorities in the United States are close to naming who carried out one of the world’s biggest cyber heists. Last week, officials in Washington, speaking on condition of anonymity, blamed North Korea. “We all know the Bangladesh Bank heist, this is just one example of a state-sponsored attack that was done on the banking sector,” Siller told a cyber security forum. An official briefed on the probe told Reuters in Washington last week that the FBI believes North Korea was responsible for the heist. The official did not give details. The Wall Street Journal reported US prosecutors were building potential cases that would accuse North Korea of directing the heist, and would charge alleged Chinese middlemen. Source: http://www.thedailystar.net/business/bangladesh-bank-heist-was-state-sponsored-us-official-1383412 http://www.thefinancialexpress-bd.com/2017/03/29/65535/US-official-claims-BB-heist-state-sponsored
Banks must accept coins and torn notes: BB
The Bangladesh Bank yesterday threatened actions against managing directors and chief executives of banks for refusing to change coins and mutilated notes. Referring to its previous directive, the central bank said instructions for accepting mutilated notes and coins were given so that people could do transactions smoothly. Even after that, it has become evident from inspection and newspaper reports that many branches of various banks are showing reluctance to accept coins, torn and mutilated notes from their clients and give the equivalent amount. “This is undesirable,” said the BB notice. Strict instruction to accept all sorts of notes and coins is given again, it said. “Managing directors or chief executives of the bank will be responsible for the violation of the directive and actions will be taken against them as per rules.”
The central bank asked the four state-owned commercial banks (SoCBs) to go all out immediately to reduce the ballooning classified loans and meet their capital crunch. Tap all options -recapitalisation of funds, issuing bonds and encashment of own profits-to meet the capital shortfalls, says the directive over the twin-problem facing the state banks. The instructions were given at a meeting held at the Bangladesh Bank headquarters in the capital Wednesday to review the memorandums of understanding (MoUs) of the four SoCBs — Sonali Bank, Janata Bank, Agrani Bank and Rupali Bank. BB Governor Fazle Kabir was in the chair. The central bank asked the SoCBs for taking effective measures to improve their financial health immediately through expediting classified loan-recovery drives across the country. The latest whipping by the regulator came against the backdrop of a rising trend in the overall non-performing loans (NPLs) in the banking sector, particularly in the SoCBs, in December, 2016. The classified loans of the SoCBs jumped by more than 38 per cent or Tk 63.63 billion in the last calendar year despite close monitoring by the central bank, the BB data showed.
Mobile banking transactions down by 11.0% in February
Transactions through mobile financial services (MFS) in the country dropped by more than 11.0% in February, according to the latest data of the central bank. Bangladesh Bank (BB) statistics reveal that a total of 134,033,911 MFS transactions took place through mobile banking platforms last month, the total value of which was around BDT. 223.3 billion. This was a 11.4% decrease from the total MFS transactions that took place in the country in January this year when BDT 252.05 billion was channeled through MFS platforms. The significant fall in MFS transaction came just a month after the central bank officially slashed the amounts of daily and monthly transactions that can be made through MFS platforms. Bangladesh Bank, in a circular issued on January 11, brought down the daily ceiling of mobile cash-in to BDT 15,000 from BDT 25,000 while the maximum cash-out limit was slashed to BDT 10,000 from BDT 25,000.
Bangladesh Bank on Wednesday said that no important files or documents were damaged but different kinds of goods and office equipments worth Tk 80 lakh were burnt in the fire incident that took place in the central bank headquarters on March 23 night . The BB probe body did not find any major damage in the blaze and no important file or document was burnt in the fire, BB executive director and spokesperson Subhankar Saha told reporters at a press briefing at the central bank headquarters in the capital. A kettle, which might be connected with power line, was found on the scene, he said. The fire broke out on the 13th floor of central bank at around 9:20 pm on March 23 and it was doused in half an hour as fire-fighters rushed to the scene immediately. The floor housed the foreign exchange policy department, which is responsible for formulating and implementing policies related to foreign exchange. Two separate committees were formed to probe the incident of fire. One committee was formed by the Fire Service and Civil Defence, while the other by the central bank with its executive director Ahmed Jamal as the head.
HC orders status quo over BB show-cause notices on NRBC Bank
The High Court on Tuesday asked the Bangladesh Bank to maintain a status quo over two of its show-cause notices served on managing director and board of directors of the scam-hit NRB Commercial Bank asking them to explain why punitive measures would not be taken against them for their alleged involvements in a number of financial scams. The High Court bench of Justice Syed Muhammad Dastagir Husain and Justice Md Ataur Rahman Khan also asked the BB to explain why the show-cause notices of the central bank would not be declared illegal. The court passed the order following a writ petition filed by the NRBC Bank challenging the show-cause notices. The BB issued a show-cause notice on NRBC managing director Dewan Mujibur Rahman on March 20 asking him to explain in 10 days why BB would not remove him from the bank for ‘failing to ensure the proper management and interest of the depositors’. In a separate but similar letter BB also asked the NRBC chairman Farasath Ali why the central bank would not take punitive action against the board of the bank for same offences.
Shahid Hossain joined Social Islami Bank as chief executive officer yesterday. Prior to joining SIBL, he has been serving Southeast Bank as managing director since January 9 in 2013. Hossain joined Southeast Bank as senior vice president in 2003, SIBL said in a statement. Hossain started his banking career as a probationary officer with National Bank in 1983. He completed his MSS in political science from Dhaka University in 1980.
The visiting British permanent under-secretary for Foreign Affairs has said that the UK is “determined” to renew and strengthen relations with long-standing friends like Bangladesh. “As the UK prepares to leave the EU, our relationship with Bangladesh will matter even more,” Simon McDonald said in a joint press statement after the first Bangladesh-UK strategic dialogue held on Tuesday in Dhaka. He said the UK would “remain outward-looking and a champion for free trade” as the process of leaving the European Union bloc began. The UK also agreed to expand the criteria for ‘3-5 day’ priority visa services for Bangladeshi applicants from June 2017. The UK is the third single largest destination for Bangladesh’s exports where all products enjoy duty-free market access following the EU’s ‘everything but arms regime’.
The International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) will co-finance building a 414 mega-watt dual-fuel combined-cycle power plant at Sirajganj. The Sembcorp North-West Power Company Ltd. is a joint venture of Sembcorp Utilities and Bangladesh’s state-owned North-West Power Generation Company Ltd. The IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) signed the agreement for the project finance at the JICA Headquarters in Tokyo, according to a statement. This transaction has been the IFC’s first co-investment with the JICA since the two organisations signed a master cooperation agreement in April 2015. This project will receive dollar-based project financing amounted to US$30 million through JICA’s private sector investment finance.
The government has reduced the customs duty (CD) on 4,609 products under the agreed trade liberalisation programme of the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA). The National Board of Revenue (NBR) issued a statutory regulatory order (SRO) on the duty cuts with retrospective effect from 01 January 2017. In the SRO, the CD has been fixed from zero percent to 5.0 percent. Under the SAFTA agreement, traders of the South Asian countries– India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, the Maldives and Afghanistan– will enjoy duty cuts in case of import and export within the bloc. According to the latest SRO from the NBR, importers having SAFTA rules of origin certificate will enjoy a reduced-duty facility on 4,609 products from the SAARC-member countries.In 2015, Bangladesh lowered the CD ranging between 0.675 percent and 7.1875 percent for the year. The CD was reduced to zero percent to 5.0 percent for 2016 on 4,609 products for trade under the agreement. The products include raw materials, intermediate, and finished and luxury products like readymade garments, footwear, foods, fruits, luxury items like electronics and machinery.
India becomes net exporter of power for the first time
Powered by the highest supply to Bangladesh, India has for the first time turned around from a net importer of electricity to a net exporter. This year, India exported 5,798 million units of electricity to Bangladesh, Nepal and Myanmar, our New Delhi correspondent reports quoting an official statement. Also, export of electricity to Bangladesh and Nepal increased 2.8 and 2.5 times respectively in the last three years. The total export was 213 million units more than the import. India first began commissioning power to Bheramara in Bangladesh at 400kV in September 2013 through Baharampur in West Bengal. It was further augmented by second interconnection between Surjyamaninagar in Tripura and Comilla. At present, around 600 MW power is being exported to Bangladesh. India had been exporting around 190 MW power to Nepal through 12 interconnections. Export of power to Nepal further increased by around 145 MW with a commissioning in 2016. Export of power to the Himalayan country is expected to go up by around 145 MW soon.
Biman launches new arm to promote tourism, country branding
Biman Bangladesh Airlines has launched a new wing aiming to promote tourism across the world, while also branding the country. Under the ‘Biman Holidays Wing’, Biman’s passengers will get the facilities to travel additional 96 destinations beyond their scheduled destinations. Besides, Biman Holidays will take part in various tourism fairs for branding the country. The passengers, who purchase Biman Holidays programme tickets, will get airport pick-up and drop facilities, meet and assistance services by the dedicated staffers at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport (HSIA), the holiday lounge’s food and beverage and cooperation for visa processing for all countries. The children and elderly persons will get special facilities under the programme. Passengers will get SIM cards, top-up facilities, baggage lost and found assistance under one-stop service. Besides, the medical tourists to the renowned hospitals of Thailand, India and Malaysia will get special discount and enjoy the lowest booking price in 350,000 hotels around the world including Bangladesh.
Mobile operators lost 73.29 lakh active connections last year mainly due to the biometric SIM re-registration. The number of active SIMs fell 5.8 percent year-on-year to 12.64 crore at the end of 2016, according to a report published by Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission yesterday. The industry began 2016 with 13.37 crore active mobile connections. The total number of SIMs (subscriber identity modules) was 12.96 crore as of February this year, the report added. However, mobile internet witnessed a boost in the year, as the number of internet-enabled connections rose 22 percent to 6.28 crore at the end of 2016. “We went through a period of transition last year for re-registration and we have already overcome it,” said TIM Nurul Kabir, secretary general of Association of Mobile Telecom Operators of Bangladesh.
Summit Group to get work of LNG terminal in Maheskhali
The government is going to award Summit Corporation Limited the job of setting up Bangladesh’s second floating LNG terminal to be built in Maheshkhali Island, Cox’s Bazar. The Energy Division proposal will be placed at the Cabinet Committee on Public Purchase on April 3, said officials. Summit signed the deal last month for building the liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminal on the offshore Island of Maheskhali. The terminal, which will have floating storage and re-gasificaiton unit (FSRU), will be set up by Summit and Singapore-based Exelerate Energy jointly as equity investment partners. According to the proposal, Summit Corporation Limited will develop the facilities on build-own-operate-transfer basis. The work will have to begin within 18 months of the signing of the final contract. It will facilitate supply of around 500m cubic feet natural gas per day. The business group, which has got big ventures in power sector, will transfer the facility to Petrobangla after 15 years of operation.
Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) will formulate the licensing guidelines next month in order to allocate spectrum to the mobile operators for introducing 4G services. Bangladesh will use the 700 megahertz spectrum for LTE technology to enable the operators to offer 4G services. “We will complete the 4G licensing guideline that will help determine the eligibility for getting 4G licences,” BTRC chairman Dr Shahjahan Mahmood told daily sun. He said the regulator is discussing with the telecom operators in this regard. “BTRC is planning to invite bids for the 4G spectrum auction by June,” another official informed. The regulator is likely to set the spectrum neutrality charges between $5 million and $7 million However, the country’s largest telecom operator Grameenphone is reluctant to participate in a 4G auction that comes without spectrum neutrality.
Bangladesh witnessed a sharp rise of internet users by 4.66 lakh in a month, as the total number of users stood at 67.2 million in February compared to 66.7 million in January this year, reports BSS. Among total users, mobile internet connection was 63.1 million, according to the latest statistics released by the Bangladesh Telecom Regulatory Commission (BTRC). Besides, the WiMAX internet connection number decreased to 89,000 in February from 91,000 in January. However, the ISP and PSTN internet connection rose to 0.403 million in the month from 0.393 million in the previous month. Besides, the number of mobile phone subscribers increased by 0.13 million in February.
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