Bloomberry Resorts Named in US Civil Legal Action Regarding Alleged Role in $81M Bangladesh Bank Heist

Posted on: February 28, 2019, 01:00h. 

Last updated on: February 28, 2019, 06:28h.

Bloomberry Resorts, the parent company to the Solaire Resort and Casino in Manila, Philippines, has been named in a civil legal action filed in the United States for its alleged role in an $81 million bank heist.

Bloomberry Resorts Bangladesh bank heist
Thieves managed to steal $81 million from the Federal Reserve – one of the most secure buildings in the world – without ever stepping foot inside the facility. Bloomberry Resorts denies its actions played a role in the heist’s success. (Image: Scott Eells/Bloomberg)

In 2016, the Bangladesh Central Bank account at the Federal Reserve in New York City was targeted in an online heist. Several transactions totaling $81 million were transferred to accounts in Sri Lanka and the Philippines.

Investigators traced most of the money to four individual bank accounts in the Philippines at the country’s Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC). Only $18 million of the $81 million sent has been recovered.

Authorities say some of the money was laundered through the Solaire casino. In a company disclosure this week, Bloomberry says it has been notified of the legal action filed in the US. The summons is brought by the Bangladesh Bank in US District Court for New York’s Southern District.

Casinos are considered financial institutions in both the US and Philippines and are required under law to record and report any suspicious activity to federal authorities.

Victim, Not Participant

Bloomberry argues that it didn’t fail to protect against money laundering, and was instead simply a victim in the international bank heist.

Bloomberry Resorts will defend itself in this case,” the company stated. The release added that “it had no knowledge that the funds … used to purchase gaming chips and played in the gaming floor and in junket rooms in Solaire were stolen.”

“Bloomberry Resorts and Hotels was a victim, and was not complicit in this case,” the company concluded.

It’s believed that hackers in North Korea were behind the theft. They had planned to steal $951 million, and used malware to schedule transactions totaling that number. The 35 transactions appeared legitimate, but officials at the Federal Reserve became suspicious after one withdrawal recipient was named the “Shalika Fundation.”

The misspelling of “foundation” prompted the feds to confirm with the Bangladesh Bank that they were performing the financial movements. They of course were not, which led to the termination of the remaining planned transactions.

The Bangladesh Central Bank, the primary financial institution of the South Asian country, has reserves totaling $33 billion.

Investopedia says a central bank is a “monetary authority” that is typically “given privileged control over the production and distribution of money and credit.” Central banks are also “usually responsible for the formulation of monetary policy and the regulation of member banks.”

Casino Expansion

In more positive news, Bloomberry recently secured financing for its second casino in the Philippines. The Quezen City property has been issued a PHP40 billion ($772 million) loan from several lenders to partially construct the integrated casino resort.

Construction will begin later this year on the $1.2 billion property that will feature 800 guestrooms, suites, and villas. The complex will offer gaming, dining, and retail shopping.

Along with its Solaire Casino, Bloomberry owns the Jeju Sun Hotel & Casino in South Korea near the Incheon International Airport.