TAIPEI (CNA) – The Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) said Monday that one Sri Lankan accused of helping hackers to steal about US$60 million from a Taiwanese bank has been arrested in the South Asian country.
The Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC), Taiwan’s top financial regulator, said that day that while most of the lost funds have been recovered, about US$500,000 remains unaccounted for.
Chiu Shao-chou (邱紹洲), a CIB section chief, told the press that the suspect was captured by Sri Lankan police when he tried to withdraw about US$26,000 after the money was wired to his account from Taiwan Oct. 6.
Chiu said that after raiding the suspect’s residence, Sri Lankan police found some other people, but whether they are accomplices requires further verification.
Sri Lankan media cited international wire reports as saying that the man is an executive of a Sri Lankan state-owned enterprise and has a bank account in the name of J.C. Nammuni.
On Friday, Far Eastern International Bank (遠東商銀), one of Taiwan’s medium-sized lenders, said it reported to the FSC and the CIB that the bank found that its computer system had been infected with malware, which affected some of its PCs and servers, as well as the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication’s (SWIFT) network.
SWIFT is a member-only organization that provides safe and secure financial transactions for its members via a standardized proprietary communication platform that can facilitate the transmission of information about financial transactions.
According to Far Eastern Bank, the malware allowed the hackers to wire about US$60 million from the accounts of the bank’s clients to foreign destinations such as Sri Lanka, Cambodia and the United States.
The CIB is planning to send a team, including IT experts of Far Eastern Bank, to Sri Lanka in the coming days to gain a better understanding of the case and provide assistance to police there.
The CIB told CNA that the bureau needs time to prepare for the probe in Sri Lanka, as the two countries have no diplomatic ties and no Taiwanese official representatives are stationed there.
Chiu said that after the CIB received the report from Far Eastern Bank, the bureau pinned down some servers located in the U.S. and the Netherlands that were used by the hackers to wire funds from the bank to overseas.
He said the CIB has provided information about the case to police in the U.S. and Europe after asking for assistance.
It is the first case of a Taiwanese bank suffering from such a serious hacking incident.
FSC Banking Bureau Deputy Director Chuang Hsiu-yuan (莊琇媛) said Far Eastern Bank has recovered US$57 million wired to Cambodia, US$1 million to the U.S. and US$1.6 million to Sri Lanka.
Chuang said that the FSC has asked Far Eastern Bank to submit a report in one week to detail the hacking incident before determining whether the bank will face a fine for negligence. •
By Liu Chien-pang, Liao Yi-yang and Frances Huang