Inner City Press

In Other Media-eg New Statesman, AJE, FP, Georgia, NYTAzerbaijan, CSM Click here to contact us     .

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis

Share |   

Follow on TWITTER

Home -

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis


(FP Twitterati 100, 2013)

ICP on YouTube

More: InnerCityPro
Sept 24, 2013

UN: Sri Lanka


FOIA Finds  

Google, Asked at UN About Censorship, Moved to Censor the Questioner, Sources Say, Blaming UN - Update - Editorial

Support this work by buying this book

Click on cover for secure site orders

also includes "Toxic Credit in the Global Inner City"




Bank Beat

Freedom of Information

How to Contact Us

Federal Reserve Proposes Weakening Its Duties Under FOIA As Withholds Docs on Mergers and Bangladesh Bank

By Matthew Russell Lee

SOUTH BRONX, SDNY COURT, June 15 – The U.S. Federal Reserve Board, while still withholding documents about the Bangladeshi Central Bank hack and its role in it requested months ago by Inner City Press under the Freedom of Information Act, has put out for comment a proposal to further weaken its duties under FOIA. The proposal does not even address an obvious disrespect by the Fed to public commenters which Inner City Press raised to a Fed Governor earlier this year. Now as a first comment, this has been submitted:

June 15, 2019 

Via e-mail to regs.comments [at] federalreserve [dot] gov 

Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System Attn: Governors, Ann E. Misback, Secretary 20th Street and Constitution Avenue NW Washington, DC 20551 
Re: First Comment on Docket No. R–1665 and RIN No. 7100 AF 51 

Dear Governors and Ann E. Misback, Secretary:     

On behalf of Inner City Press, a frequent requester to the Federal Reserve Board (FRB) and other agencies under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), and in my personal capacity, this is a first comment on the proposed revisions to the FRB's proposed rulemaking (proposal) that would amend the Board’s Rules Regarding Availability of Information (Board’s Rules).    

As a practitioner what is most disappointing about this rulemaking is that the FRB has not even proposed to address a major problem raised to it, including to Governor Lael Brainard earlier this year: that the FRB routinely delays responding to FOIA requests and even frivolous requests for confidential treatment by applicants for regulator approval under AFTER the Board has approved contested merger applications.     As Inner City Press asked Governor Brainard, how does this FRB failure not incentivize applicant banks to make overbroad requests for confidential treatment of their applications, responses to public comment and response to FRB Additional Information requests, knowing that there is no repercussion nor commitment by the FRB to address the overbroad withholding request until after their applications are approved?    Given the FRB's legal duty to consider public comments on mergers, including comments informed by what the applicant banks actually submit, the FRB must address this problem in this rulemaking.  

 Overall, the FRB not only denied expedited processing of Inner City Press' request for FRB records concerning its actions and role in the Bangladesh Bank hack and case - it has refused to respond to an appeal of its constructive denial of access to any records, after months, see below incorporated herein by reference. This too must be addressed.     For now, we also note the potential abuse, shown most recently by the FRB's sister agency the OCC, that allowing the agency to do nothing to begin collecting records as long as it disputes a fee waiver request. The OCC is still disputing a fee waiver request for the submissions of WSFS for approval to acquire Beneficial in Philadelphia, long after the OCC (like the FRB) approved the Application.     We may have further comment but wished the raise the above at the earliest possible time in the process to ensure that the FRB belatedly address the issue(s).    

Thank you for your attention.  Matthew Lee, Executive Director Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch

Incorporated by reference along with underlying request(s) in the FRB's possession: 

From: Matthew R. Lee, Inner City Press Date: Tue, May 21, 2019 at 2:05 PM Subject: FOIA appeal of FRB's constructive denial of Feb 17 FOIA request about Bangladesh Bank, nothing since April 2, SDNY today

May 21, 2019 

FRB Governor covering FOIA appeals: Information Disclosure Section, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve 20th & Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20551  FOIA APPEAL of constructive denial of FOIA Request No. F-2019-00095  Dear FRB Governor covering FOIA appeals:   This is an appeal of what is now the constructive denial of Inner City Press' and my Feb 17, 2019 FOIA request for "records regarding the Federal Reserve System's [role] including the FRBNY's role in what is known as the Bangladesh Bank hack or cyber heist and assistance provided to Bangladesh Bank and investigative authorities since the heist, including but limited to in connection with the SDNY case Bangladesh Bank v Rizal Commercial Banking Corp et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 19-00983."    First, the FRB denied the request for expedited processing, finding no threat of physical harm (??) and also reciting and presumably denying under this standard:     "[t]he requester is a representative of the news media ... and there is urgency to inform the public concerning actual or alleged Board activity.”    Still, the Fed in further extending its time said there would be response by April 2. There has been none, nothing at all.   Today in the SDNY counsel for Bangladesh Bank directly referred to the Federal Reserve. The Fed's delay, contrasted to the fast if bad faith turn around on Inner City Press' BB&T money laundering enforcement action termination FOIA, is in this context unacceptable, even a cover up.    This is an appeal. The FRB should provide an explanation of nothing since April 2, and the long ago requested documents.  Please confirm receipt, thank you in advance, 

Matthew Lee, Inner City Press/Fair Finance Watch"

No response at all three weeks later from the FRB. Bangladesh Bank which was hacked for $81 million in February 2016, on January 31 sued in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York. Now the first pre-trial conference in the case has been set, for 2 April 2019 before SDNY Judge Lorna G. Schofield. Inner City Press will be there.

To the Federal Reserve, Inner City Press requested records relating to the Fed's role with response officially due in 20 working days. But now this from the Federal Reserve: "Re:       Freedom of Information Act Request No. F-2019-00095     Dear Mr. Lee,     On February 19, 2019, the Board of Governors (“Board”) received your electronic message dated February 17, pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), 5 U.S.C. § 552, for records regarding the Federal Reserve System's [role] including the FRBNY's role in what is known as the Bangladesh Bank hack or cyber heist and assistance provided to Bangladesh Bank and investigative authorities since the heist, including but limited to in connection with the SDNY case Bangladesh Bank v Rizal Commercial Banking Corp et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 19-00983.      Pursuant to section (a)(6)(B)(i) of the FOIA, we are extending the period for our response until April 2, 2019, in order to consult with two or more components of the Board having a substantial interest in the determination of the request.     If a determination can be made before April 2, 2019, we will respond to you promptly. It is our policy to process FOIA requests as quickly as possible while ensuring that we disclose the requested information to the fullest extent of the law." And April 2 is the day of the SDNY hearing. We'll have more on this.

In Dhaka, the Criminal Investigation Department which failed to submit its probe report into the heist on time has now been ordered by Metropolitan Magistrate Sadbir Yasir Ahsan Chowdhury to do so by March 13 in Bangladesh Bank cyber heist case.

In the U.S. District Court for Central California, the unsealed criminal complaint against Park Jin Hyuk lists four email addresses involved in spear-phishing Bangladesh Bank and among others an unnamed "African Bank;" one of these addresses is said to also have communicated with an individual in Australia about importing commodities to North Korea in violations of UN sanctions.

In the SDNY, the case is Bangladesh Bank v Rizal Commercial Banking Corp et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 19-00983. On February 3 in Dhaka Bangladesh Bank's lawyer Ajmalul Hossain said it could take three years to recover the money. The Bank's deputy governor Abu Hena Razee Hasan said those being accused -- in the civil not criminal suit -- include three Chinese nationals. Ajmalul Hossain said the Bank is seeking its hacked million plus interest and its expenses in the case. He said US Federal Reserve will extend its full support and that SWIFT, the international money transfer network, also assured of providing all the necessary cooperation in recovering the hacked money.  The Philippines returned $14.54 million in November 2016, so $66.46 million has yet to be retrieved. Now defendant RCBC Bank of the Philippines has hired the Quinn Emanuel law firm to defend it, and it already fighting back in words. RCBC’s lead counsel on the SDNY case, Tai-Heng Cheng, said:  “This is nothing more than a thinly veiled PR campaign disguised as a lawsuit. Based on what we have heard this suit is completely baseless. If the Bank of Bangladesh was serious about recovering the money, they would have pursued their claims three years ago and not wait until days before the statute of limitations. Not only are the allegations false, they don’t have the right to file here since none of the defendants are in the US." But it seems the funds were transferred to and through the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. And as Inner City Press reported in the US v. Patrick Ho case last year, the wiring of funds through New York can confer jurisdiction. Inner City Press will be covering this case. The first paragraph of the 103 page complaint reads, "This litigation involves a massive, multi-year conspiracy to carry out one of the largest banks heists in modern history right here in New York City. On February 4, 2016, thieves reached into a bank account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (“New York Fed”) and stole approximately $101 million (out of the nearly $1 billion they attempted to steal). The bank account was held for the benefit of Bangladesh Bank, which is Bangladesh’s Central Bank. Bangladesh Bank has had a 45-year banking relationship under which it has placed its international reserves with the New York Fed. The New York Fed is a critical component of the United States’ central banking system and its link to the international financial system." Bangladesh's lawyers on the case are "COZEN O’CONNOR John J. Sullivan, Esq.  Jesse Loffler, Esq. Yehudah Gordon, Esq." We'll have more on this.

Debaprasad Debnath, a general manager at the central bank’s Financial Intelligence Unit, Joint Director Mohammad Abdur Rab and Account and Budgeting Department General Manager Zakir Hossain all left Dhaka to head to New York, for the filing of the lawsuit, which Inner City Press will be following.

They say the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, which on January 29 was instructed by the US State Department to allow Juan Guaido to access Venezuelan accounts, will be helping its Bangladeshi counterpart to get to the bottom of the hack.  Those eyed include Philippines’ Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation or RCBC and some of its officials, and Philrem Service Corporation, casino owners and beneficiaries. Ajmalul Hossain QC, a lawyer for the central bank, is with them to file the case.

It is an interesting twist on the SDNY as venue for the money laundering and FCPA prosecution of Patrick Ho of CEFC for bribery in Chad and to Uganda - in this case, too, the money flowed through New York. Inner City Press intends to cover the case.


Your support means a lot. As little as $5 a month helps keep us going and grants you access to exclusive bonus material on our Patreon page. Click here to become a patron.

Feedback: Editorial [at]

Box 20047, Dag Hammarskjold Station NY NY 10017

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540

Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

 Copyright 2006-2019 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at] for