NIC Asia Bank seeks CIB help to track down SWIFT server hacker

Kathmandu, November 4

After forensic investigation of illegal fund transfer with its SWIFT server, NIC Asia Bank has sought support from the Central Investigation Bureau of Nepal Police to track down the hacker.

NIC Asia Bank had carried out forensic investigation with support of KPMG India and submitted its report to Nepal Rastra Bank. It also shared the findings of the initial investigation with CIB.

Pushkar Karki, deputy inspector general of Nepal Police and chief of CIB, said initial investigation showed the payment order was placed by hacking the bank’s SWIFT server. “CIB has started investigating how the server was hacked,” said Karki, adding, “Our investigation will reveal whether or not the bank had adopted proper safeguards and which party was involved in the hacking.”

NIC Asia’s reluctance to report the case to CIB and the ‘inconclusive’ investigation carried out by KPMG had raised doubts whether a foreign party was involved in the illegal transfer of fund or it was an insider job.

According to Karki, NIC Asia Bank recently sought CIB’s help after the initial investigation carried out by KPMG and NRB. CIB has been taking help from the central bank and NIC Asia Bank regarding the investigation.

The SWIFT server of NIC Asia Bank was hacked during Tihar and the hacker had placed the payment order to various parties in six countries, including Japan, UK, the US and Singapore, through Standard Chartered New York and Mashreq Bank New York, through which the bank operates its foreign currency accounts.

NIC Asia Bank had reported the incident to NRB immediately after it discovered the suspicious transactions through its SWIFT server.

With support of the central bank and the other concerned banks, NIC Asia was able to put all the transactions on hold except for around Rs 60 million that was reportedly released to the concerned parties.

The hacker had placed payment order of around Rs 460 million.

So far, Rs 400 million has been retrieved.

A separate investigation carried out by the central bank immediately after NIC Asia Bank notified the regulator revealed that staffers assigned to operate the SWIFT system of the bank had used a computer dedicated for SWIFT operation for other purposes also.

NIC Asia Bank has transferred all of the six staffers, who were responsible for handling the SWIFT operation, to other departments.