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Parties at center of Bangladesh cyber heist pledge cooperation


(Reuters) — Parties at the center of one of the biggest-ever cyber heists pledged on Tuesday to cooperate to recover $81 million stolen from a Bangladesh central bank account at the New York Fed, following weeks of accusations over who is to blame.

Federal Reserve Bank of New York President William Dudley, Bangladesh Bank Governor Fazle Kabir and representatives from global messaging network SWIFT met in Basel, Switzerland, on Tuesday to discuss the early-February heist.

The meeting was the first face-to-face encounter since the cyber attack left the three blaming each other over the incident in which criminals, using SWIFT messages, stole the funds from the Bangladesh central bank's account held at the New York Fed.

"All parties stated their concern over this event and their continued commitment to work together to normalize operations," the New York Fed, Bangladesh Bank and SWIFT said in a joint statement.

"The parties also agreed to pursue jointly certain common goals: to recover the entire proceeds of the fraud and bring the perpetrators to justice, and protect the global financial system from these types of attacks."

A senior official with Bangladesh's central bank who was in close contact with the delegation that had traveled from Dhaka to Basel said the bank's top priority was to secure close cooperation from all the parties involved.

"Bangladesh Bank believes if the New York Federal Reserve were to intervene, it will be possible to retrieve the money," said the official.

The joint statement said the three parties had discussed actions taken so far and exchanged information about "cyber and physical vulnerabilities" highlighted by the incident.

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and Bangladesh police are among the groups investigating the breach.

In the latest twist, SWIFT on Monday rejected allegations by officials in Bangladesh that technicians related to SWIFT made the central bank more vulnerable to hacking.

When asked by Reuters outside his hotel in Basel on Tuesday, Mr. Kabir declined to elaborate on the joint statement.

A spokeswoman for SWIFT, which stands for the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, declined to elaborate on who attended the meeting. A New York Fed spokeswoman declined to discuss what steps were planned.

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