Colombo – Sri Lankan police have arrested two men for allegedly helping international criminals who hacked into computers at a Taiwan bank and stole millions of dollars, says an official.
The pair were arrested after they tried to withdraw large sums of money that had been wired to their accounts with a Sri Lankan bank branch in the capital Colombo, the official said.
Tens of millions of dollars
The police Criminal Investigation Department (CID) was working closely with Taiwan counterparts to track down the hackers, who are said to have breached the Taiwan bank’s computers last week.
“We are looking at about $1.3 million that had come into three accounts in Sri Lanka,” said the official.
“We have taken two people into custody and we are looking for one more person”.
Police in Sri Lanka did not disclose the name of the affected bank in Taiwan or the sum said to have been stolen, but a Sri Lankan media report said tens of millions of dollars had been wired out of the island.
In Taipei the Financial Regulatory Commission confirmed that the local Far Eastern International Bank’s Swift system had been hacked through a computer virus but gave no details.
Taiwanese media quoted the bank as saying that it detected irregularities in its Swift system and suspicious transactions involving Sri Lanka, Cambodia and the United States started on Thursday.
However, Taiwan police have recovered most of the money with the help of counterparts in other countries, the reports said.
Sri Lankan police investigated a similar theft in February last year when hackers broke into the computer system of the Bangladesh central bank and transferred $20m of stolen money to a Sri Lankan businesswoman.
The money was recovered and a court investigation is pending.