KPMG team to seek more time to draw conclusion on NIC Asia case

Kathmandu, October 27

The KPMG team that had arrived from India on Monday to conduct forensic investigation of unauthorised transfer of funds using NIC Asia Bank’s SWIFT server has decided to seek two more weeks to discern what really happened.

Initially believed to be a cyber-heist, the team that is looking into the case since Tuesday had planned to submit its preliminary report to Nepal Rastra Bank — the central regulatory and monetary authority — by today. However, it is seeking additional time citing lack of evidence of hacking.

“The initial study could neither clearly determine if the SWIFT server was hacked or identify the people involved in the unauthorised transfer of funds,” informed a high-ranking official at NIC Asia Bank, seeking anonymity. “Hence, the KPMG team from India has called another high-level technical team to conduct further study and it could take another two weeks to get the final report.”

The central bank officials said they had not been communicated by NIC Asia Bank today. “Since today was a public holiday, we hope to hear from them on Sunday,” said Rajendra Pandit, joint spokesperson for NRB.

According to sources at NIC Asia Bank, the KPMG team had hoped to find out how the funds had been transferred by analysing the log. However, they were unable to find anything concrete. “The new support team would use further tools of forensic investigation to figure out what happened,” sources said.

The case is yet to be reported to Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) of Nepal Police and a source at NIC Asia Bank had earlier informed that the bank was planning to hand over the case to CIB after forensic investigation of KPMG team concluded.

“Further action will be taken only after getting a clear picture from the forensic investigation,” the official had said.

NIC Asia Bank, on Sunday, had reported that its SWIFT server had been ‘hacked’ during Tihar festival and fund transfer orders of around Rs 460 million had been placed through Standard Chartered Bank and Mashreq Bank of New York to eight banks in six countries.

In the subsequent days, however, questions have surfaced about whether the server was actually hacked or the funds were illegally transferred in collusion with the bank’s staff members.