BSP working with NBI to uncover cyber heist in UCPB

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Benjamin Diokno said Thursday the regulator is working closely with law enforcement agencies to uncover the reported cyber heist that targeted state-run United Coconut Planters Bank.

“The BSP is well-aware of the reported UCPB incident and has been in close coordination with the bank since the early part of its investigation,” Diokno told reporters.

“UCPB is undertaking the necessary remedial measures to heighten cybersecurity, including collaborating with the NBI [National Bureau of Investigation] for the investigation and eventual prosecution of the suspected criminals,” Diokno said.

He said initial investigation results indicated “no financial losses or damages were incurred by UCPB accountholders in this particular incident.”

Diokno assured the BSP remained “steadfast in fully resolving the matter as we work closely with the bank and relevant law enforcement agency.”

He said that in pursuit of cybersecurity agenda, the BSP was collaborating and engaging financial institutions to ensure the safety and integrity of the financial system as well as the protection of the financial consumers.

An emailed statement from UCPB in response to a query on Thursday said UCPB “is investigating the incident in close coordination with the NBI and other concerned authorities. Pending completion of the investigation, the bank continues to review and strengthen its IT and security controls.”

UCPB said it assures stakeholders that clients’ funds were not affected by the incident and that security measures were implemented to avoid recurrence of the June incident.

“UCPB remains to be a strong and profitable institution, registering a net income of P2.9 billion for the first half of 2020,” it said.

Earlier reports said that the cyber theft occurred in June involving the withdrawals from automated teller machines and online transfers perpetrated by Nigerian nationals and their local accomplice.

Reports said the total loss of the bank reached P167 million, which was first reported by early this week.

Following the Bank of Bangladesh’s $81-million cyber heist in early 2016, the BSP intensified its campaign against money laundering to prevent the inclusion of the Philippines in the so-called gray list of jurisdictions with deficiencies in anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing compliance.

Cyber thieves stole $81 million from the account of Bank of Bangladesh in Federal Reserve in New York and wired the dirty money in fictitious accounts in the Jupiter Makati branch of Rizal Commercial Banking Corp.

Investigations found that the money was eventually laundered by a number of individuals in local casinos.

Topics: Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas , BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno , cyber heist , United Coconut Planters Bank
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